Koko`s jail sentence sparks row in B`desh
Last Updated: Friday, June 24, 2011, 23:30
Dhaka: Bangladesh's main opposition BNP on Friday termed the conviction of the fugitive younger son of former prime minister Khaleda Zia as a "political revenge" and decided to take to the streets after a court sentenced Arafat Rahman Koko to six years imprisonment for taking bribes.

Judge Mohammad Mozammel Hossain of the Special Court yesterday sentenced Koko to six years imprisonment for siphoning off over USD 2.66 million as bribes from two foreign companies.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by Zia questioned the legality of the money laundering case and his conviction, saying Koko was not given an opportunity to defend himself.

The conviction was "to take political revenge," said BNP’s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. "Nobody will accept the verdict, which proves the judiciary has become a farce," Alamgir said, as the opposition party called a nationwide protest on Sunday against the verdict.

The ruling Awami League termed the ruling as a "cautionary signal for politicians," in the country.

"This is not happy news for us who are in politics and have our children...but this is the outcome of our failure," said Syed Ashraful Islam, the general secretary and local government minister of the Awami League.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) ruled out any influence of the government over the ruling, saying it did not have any link to the case.

According to the chargesheet, Koko was accused of taking bribes from China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. and the German telecom giant Siemens' subsidiary in Bangladesh to facilitate them win government contracts during Khaleda's premiership in 2001-2006.

Koko, who has refused to return for trial and living in Bangkok, was arrested on September 2007 on graft charges under a massive anti-corruption campaign of the earlier interim government and was paroled for treatment abroad in July 2008.


First Published: Friday, June 24, 2011, 23:30

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