Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus Sentenced To Six Months In Jail

(Photo by SYED MAHAMUDUR RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Mariane Angela Contributor
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Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus faces a six-month jail sentence for labor law breaches in Bangladesh, The Associated Press (AP) reported Monday.

In addition to jail time, the 83-year-old Nobel laureate was fined 30,000 takas, or $260, according to The AP. Yunus, recognized for founding the Grameen Bank and advancing poverty alleviation, denies violating the labor laws.

“We are being punished for a crime we did not commit,” Yunus told reporters, according to The AP.

The verdict, delivered by the Third Labor Court under Sheikh Merina Sultana, immediately saw Yunus and his three Grameen Telecom colleagues released on bail, pending appeal. The court cited violations including failure to make 67 employees permanent and not forming staff welfare funds, The AP reported.

“It was my fate, the nation’s fate. We have accepted this verdict, but will appeal this verdict and continue fighting against this sentence,” Yunus added, according to The AP. (RELATED:Wisconsin Company Pays $1.5 Million Fine For Putting Children To Work In Meatpacking Plant)

“We have been deprived of justice,” defense lawyer Abdullah Al Mamun said, The AP reported.

This legal turmoil coincides with Bangladesh’s preparation for a general election Jan. 7. It has intensified the ongoing political strife, with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) urging voters to boycott what they label a “one-sided dummy election,” Reuters reported.

Yunus established Grameen Bank in 1983, pioneering microfinancing by providing small loans to underprivileged entrepreneurs, The AP reported. This model gained global traction for its effectiveness in alleviating poverty.

However, tensions arose when Yunus, who had previously criticized Bangladeshi politicians for greed, contemplated entering politics in 2007. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who took office in 2008, initiated investigations into Yunus and Grameen Bank, according to The AP.

Yunus was ousted from Grameen Bank in 2011 and faced legal charges in 2013, including unauthorized receipt of funds, encompassing his Nobel Prize winnings and book royalties, The AP reported.