Bangladesh Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia awarded 5 years imprisonment

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"She can challenge the ruling in the High Court after getting a certified copy of the verdict", he said.

Zia is now disqualified from contesting the upcoming national elections in December.

Ms Zia became the second head of the government after former military dictator-turned-politician HM Ershad to be convicted in a graft case. "We didn't get justice".

"We will challenge the verdict in the High Court".

"This is a false and staged case".

"There is nothing to be excited over the judgment as it was delivered by the court, not by the government", said AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader at a press briefing at party president's Dhanmondi office last night. With the weekend starting tomorrow, Zia's lawyer will have to move the case to Sunday.

"It's up to the appeals court to decide whether she will be eligible to run", he said after the verdict.

In that case, they will have to move the case on Sunday. The court may decide issuance of bail immediately.

According to the Daily Star, Zia was sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment by Special Court-5. "She has been sheltered at the old jail at Nazimuddin Road".

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Reports from Bangladesh say Zia's party BNP is planning a nationwide protest Friday. Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd in two spots, witnesses said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, political observers in Dhaka said if Zia is not allowed to contest, it would be hard for the BNP to convert the popular support into a win. Bangladeshi law-enforcing agencies have reportedly arrested prominent leaders of BNP and its prime Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, over the last few days, to prevent untoward situations.

BNP senior leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi denounced the sentence, calling it "an attempt to eliminate the opponent".

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters shout slogans as they set a fire during a street protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Concerns have also been raised that Awami League and BNP supporters might provoke violence and target each other's supporters, Human Rights Watch said.

During the 2007-2008 tenure of the army-backed caretaker government, she was in jail for about a year on a charge of corruption.

Her party boycotted 2014 polls in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was re-elected. He added that many people would see it as a tactic for removing the main contender in the election and a way of "demonising a political opponent".

Both women emerged from political dynasties.