NEW DELHI (AP) — Bangladesh’s High Court on Thursday sentenced a son of the country’s top opposition leader to seven years in jail in a money laundering case, overturning an acquittal handed down by a lower court.
The decision against Tarique Rahman, also an opposition figure and the heir apparent to his mother Khaleda Zia, a former prime minister, was handed down by a two-member bench.
The political rivalry between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her main opposition rival Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party runs deeps and strong in Bangladesh.
Defense lawyer Zainul Abedin said the court also fined him 200 million takas ($2.54 million). Abedin said they have not decided if they will appeal to the Supreme Court.
A Dhaka trial court in 2013 acquitted Rahman of charges that he and a businessman friend siphoned off 204.1 million takas to Singapore between 2003 and 2007.
Rahman, the senior vice chairman of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has been living in exile in London since he left the country in 2008 after securing bail on medical grounds. He was arrested on various charges of corruption in 2007 during a state of emergency under a military-backed caretaker government after her mother dithered on handing over power peacefully at the end of her five-year rule.
The court ordered authorities to take steps to bring Rahman back from London, but Bangladesh does not have an extradition treaty with Britain.
The ruling is the latest challenge to Zia and her son as their party has struggled to build an effective anti-government movement amid low confidence and a crackdown on the party by the government.
Lawyers said the court upheld a seven-year jail term for Rahman’s friend, Giasuddin Al Mamun, given by the trial court in 2013. He is in prison.