Bangladesh police clash with protesters ahead of Zia verdict

 08 Feb 2018 - 10:57

Bangladesh police clash with protesters ahead of Zia verdict
Bangladesh police stand guard in Dhaka following a verdict in the corruption case of Bangladesh's main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia in Dhaka on February 8, 2018. AFP / Munir Uz Zaman

AFP

Dhaka: Police clashed with protesters in the Bangladesh capital on Thursday ahead of a key corruption verdict in the case of opposition leader Khaleda Zia.

Live television footage showed police firing tear gas at Zia supporters who threw rocks as they escorted the vehicle of the two-time former prime minister along the road to the Dhaka court building.

The private television station Somoy said at least five police officers had been injured and two motorcycles torched during the clashes that broke out several kilometres (miles) from the court premises. 

Thousands of activists of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) defied heavy police security to accompany the opposition leader as her motorcade moved slowly towards the magistrates' court to hear the verdict.

Zia is charged with embezzling $252,000 from a trust created for an orphanage.

She faces life in prison if convicted by the Dhaka court, but has consistently denied the charges, insisting "not a penny" was stolen.

Police have banned street protests and rounded up thousands of opposition supporters in a crackdown ahead of Thursday's ruling.

A senior officer told AFP more than 5,000 police had been deployed in Dhaka and the streets of the usually congested capital were almost empty of cars early Thursday.

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