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Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus found guilty in Bangladesh labor law case

Munir uz zaman Agence France-Presse Le prix Nobel de la paix 2006, Muhammad Yunus, lors de son arrivée au tribunal, lundi 1er janvier.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus was found guilty Monday of violating labor laws in Bangladesh, a prosecutor told AFP, in a case his supporters say was motivated by policies.

The economist, Nobel laureate in 2006, and three of his colleagues within Grameen Telecom, one of the companies he founded, are accused of not having created a provident fund and 'have thus violated labor law.

A court in the capital, Dhaka, found them guilty, sentencing them to “six months' imprisonment”, senior prosecutor Khurshid Alam Khan told AFP, adding that they immediately released on bail pending appeal.

The four accused reject these accusations.

“I was punished for a crime that I did not commit,” Mr. Yunus reacted after the judgment.

“If you want to call it justice, you can,” he said again wryly.

“This verdict is unprecedented,” Abdullah Al Mamun, a lawyer for Mr. Yunus, told AFP. “We didn’t get justice. »

Mr. Yunus faces around 100 other charges relating to alleged labor violations and corruption allegations.

In November, the Nobel Prize winner told reporters that he had not profited from any of the more than 50 companies he had started in Bangladesh.

“They were not intended for my personal benefit, whether it was Grameen Bank or many other organizations,” Mr. Yunus defended.

According to Khaja Tanvir, another lawyer for the economist interviewed by AFP, the case is “worthless, false and unjustified”.

“The only purpose of this case is to harass and humiliate him in front of the whole world,” he said.

Mr. Yunus, 83, is credited with lifting millions of people out of poverty through his pioneering microcredit bank, but he has fallen out with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who accused him of “sucking the blood” of poor.

The economist's popularity with the Bangladeshi population has made him a potential rival of the Prime Minister, who is practically guaranteed to win a fifth term in the legislative elections which are to be held on Sunday and which the government is boycotting. 'opposition.

“Parody of Justice”

Irene Khan, former secretary general of Amnesty International and now special rapporteur at the United Nations, was present at the hearing on Monday. Questioned by AFP, she described the judgment as a “parody of justice”.

“A social activist and Nobel laureate who brought honor and pride to the country is being persecuted for frivolous reasons,” she observed.

Critics accuse Bangladesh's courts of rubber-stamping decisions by Ms. Hasina's government, which has become increasingly assertive in its repression of political opposition.

In August, 160 international figures, including former US President Barack Obama and former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, published a joint open letter denouncing “continued judicial harassment” of which the pioneer of microcredit is a victim.

The signatories, including more than a hundred Nobel laureates, said they feared for “his security and freedom.”

Amnesty International accused the Bangladesh government of exploiting labor laws when Yunus attended a hearing in September, and called for an immediate end to his “harassment” the object according to the organization.

The criminal proceedings against him constitute “a form of political reprisal for his work and opposition,” according to Amnesty International.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116