Dhaka (Agencies): A special court on Thursday sentenced opposition leader Khaleda Zia to five years in jail on Thursday after convicting the two-time former premier of embezzling money meant for an orphanage.

Amid heightened security across Bangladesh and tensions running high on the political scene, the court convicted her of embezzling Tk 21 million in foreign donation for the Zia Orphanage Trust.

In the same case, Khaleda’s son Tarique Rahman and four others have been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The others are former Magura MP Quazi Salimul Haq Kamal, former principal secretary to the PM Kamal Uddin Siddique, BNP founder Ziaur Rahman’s nephew Mominur Rahman and businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed.

Violent clashes broke out between security forces and protesters in the Bangladesh capital ahead of the verdict.

Police fired tear gas at thousands of opposition activists who defied heavy security to escort the car taking Zia , a two-time former prime minister, to a Dhaka court for the verdict.

The private television station Somoy said at least five police officers had been injured and two motorcycles torched during the clashes that broke out several kilometres (miles) from the court premises.

Zia , leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is charged with embezzling $252,000 from a trust created for an orphanage and faces life in prison if convicted by the Dhaka magistrates' court.