A Bangladesh court sentenced on Thursday Arafat Rahman Koko, the younger son of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, to six years in prison for illegally acquiring $2.7 million in corrupt payments, court officials said.The verdict could fuel street protests by Khaleda’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies who say the charges against Koko were politically motivated and pushed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Khaleda and Hasina are both the relatives of men who used to rule the country and the bitter rivalry between the women has overshadowed the country’s politics for years.
Khaleda’s BNP, the main opposition party, and its allies have already launched a campaign against Hasina’s government, particularly against a plan to scrap a system of holding national elections under a non-party caretaker administration. The court also ordered Ismail Hossain Saimon, son of a former shipping minister and the co-accused in the case, to six years in prison, court officials said. It also asked Koko and Saimon, who were tried and sentenced in absentia, to pay a fine of $5 million.Businessman Koko has been staying in Bangkok since late 2008 after he was released on parole for me dical t reatment while Saimon is on the run.