DHAKA: Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia cannot contest upcoming elections because of her five-year jail term, the country’s High Court ruled on Tuesday.
Zia, who leads the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was prime minister twice and was sentenced in February on corruption charges.
She and other senior BNP figures imprisoned for corruption had appealed to have their convictions suspended so they could contest next month’s general elections.
But the High Court said those with jail terms of more than two years are ineligible to run even if they have appeals pending.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told media after the verdict that a convict can only qualify as a candidate once five years have elapsed since the completion of their jail term.
The BNP figures were given terms ranging from eight to 20 years in different corruption cases.
Alam said their suspension requests were filed before any court had overturned their convictions.
He was asked about a ruling party minister who was acquitted last month by the High Court on a corruption charge.
Alam said he did not know what arguments had been made for Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya at the High Court, but the constitution is clear on electoral candidates and criminal convictions.
Maya was sentenced a decade ago. Alam said five years had yet to pass since the completion of the jail term.