Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jail for Bangladeshi dictator Ershad

If 2006 marked the year of the "comeback dictator", it also appears to have been the year when the little people struck back at their former tyrants.

The latest former dictator to land in hot water? None other than the former dictator of Bangladesh, General Hossein Mohammed Ershad (pictured above at left), who has been sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges. To provide an analogy for American readers, this is a bit like Al Capone getting in trouble for tax evasion.

Ershad, who remained active in national politics after stepping down as Bangladesh's chief executive, has never faced trial for numerous political killings committed in the process of taking power in a classic military coup d'etat, nor for any of the killings or tortures committed while in power. In a deft touch, Ershad graciously granted himself complete immunity for all crimes undertaken in his ascent to power in a hasty re-write of Bangladesh's constitution.

The 77 year old Ershad has every reason to suspect that his conviction is political in nature. With elections coming up, the Ershad led Jatiya Party has joined 13 others to form a massive coalition opposition party to challenge the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party. It remains to be seen whether or not his party can carry on without him, and whether or not he will ever emerge from prison, let alone resume political activity when he's free.

UPDATE: Ershad has apparently been hospitalized in Dhaka. It looks like he'll stay out of jail until he's discharged.