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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 11:15 GMT
Former Bangladesh minister jailed
Lutfozzaman Babar
Mr Babar is the latest in a long line of politicians to be convicted
A court in Bangladesh has sentenced former Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar to 10 years in jail for illegally possessing firearms.

Mr Babar, a member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, was convicted of having several unlicensed firearms.

Meanwhile, there are reports that BNP members have reorganised their party and appointed a new acting leader.

Khaleda Zia is currently under arrest facing corruption charges.

Mr Babar was found guilty by a special tribunal set up by the military-backed interim government which has ruled Bangladesh since elections were postponed in January.

"He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for keeping a revolver illegally and another seven years for keeping 25 rounds of bullets illegally," said state prosecutor Kabir Hossain, the AFP news agency reports.

The two sentences will be served concurrently.

BNP split

Correspondents say Ms Zia's position within the BNP is unclear, in part because of a worsening split within the party between those who continue to support her and those who say they want to "revitalise" the party with a new leadership.

Former Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman says that he has now temporarily replaced Ms Zia as the BNP's leader, after a lengthy party meeting late on Monday.

Another former minister and a key BNP rebel, Hafizuddin Ahmed, has been made acting secretary general in place of Zia loyalist Khandaker Delwar Hossain - who is ill.

However supporters of Ms Zia say it is not clear if the changes are legal.

The military-backed interim government of Bangladesh has launched a crackdown on corruption in the impoverished country since assuming power in January.

About 160 former ministers and political leaders have been convicted over the past four months.

Ms Zia's main rival, Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League, is also in jail facing trial on charges of extortion, corruption and abuse of power.

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