A Dhaka court has in its verdict in a corruption case against the former prime minister and opposition leader Khaleda Zia underscored the non-existence of the 'Zia Orphanage Trust' when a grant of $1.255 million was received.
There was nothing called 'Zia Orphanage Trust' in 1991 when a grant of $1.255 million came from the United Saudi Commercial Bank for orphans in Bangladesh, the court said, according to the full text of the verdict released on Monday, reported the Dhaka Tribune.
The orphanage trust, which only existed on paper, was created in 1993 with the very purpose of misappropriation, with the money having been kept idle in a bank till then.
Zia, who was prime minister between 1991 and 1996, set up a fund by the name of Prime Minister's Orphanage Fund.
According to the report, when money equivalent to TK 4,44,81,216 came to the PM's fund, it was kept in a bank account. From 1991 to 1993 the money was kept idle.
In 1993 as the Zia Orphanage Trust was created and the money was divided into two parts - with only one part of TK 2,33,33,500 going to that trust, the court continued.
The judgement branded the money meant for orphans as public money and added that holding public money for an indefinite period without spending is also punishable under Section 409 of the penal code.
In February beginning, Zia was sentenced to five years in jail.
She was found guilty of embezzling money meant for an orphanage, a charge she had consistently dismissed as politically motivated
The verdict, given by a special court judge, Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman said that Khaleda's jail term was being kept short due to "her health and social status."
In a political career spanning almost four decades, Khaleda went to the jail several times but was never convicted. She was detained several times during the anti-Ershad movement between the 1980s and 1990s.