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Bangladesh ex-home minister sentenced to 10 years for illegal weapons possession

[JURIST] A Bangladesh special tribunal sentenced former state minister Lutfozzaman Babar to 10 years in jail Tuesday for illegal possession of firearms. Babar, who served as home minister until October 2006, was found guilty of illegally possessing two pistols, a revolver and ammunition. The court officially sentenced him to a total of 17 years, but he will serve his 10-year gun possession and seven-year ammunition possession sentences concurrently. Police forces found the weapons during raids of Babar's house in May after the government detained him on suspicion of corruption at the recommendation of the country's anti-corruption commission [governing statute, PDF]. Bangladeshi citizens can keep small firearms as long as they have permits, which Babar could not produce [AP report] for police. Babar pleaded not guilty and plans to appeal the judgment [AP report], according to his lawyer.

Babar's conviction comes on the same day that his political party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, forced former party leader and prime minister Khaleda Zia [UN profile] to step down [AFP report] while she is under investigation on charges of corruption. Both recent actions are part of a continuing anti-corruption crackdown [JURIST news archive] in Bangladesh. The government declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in January and has since detained more than 150 prominent political and business leaders. BBC News has more. ZeeNews.com has local coverage.

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