Bangladesh judge jailed for carrying drugs

File photo of illegal cough syrup in bottles.

DHAKA - A Dhaka court Tuesday sentenced a judge to four years in prison for carrying hundreds of bottles of illegal cough syrup -- a popular drug in Bangladesh -- a prosecutor said.

Senior assistant judge Javed Imam, 32, was arrested in December with 342 bottles of the syrup, which is locally called Phensidyl, prosecutor Zahid Hossain told AFP.

"The judge has sentenced him to four years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 taka ($130)," Hossain said, adding that the Law Ministry had now suspended him.

According to police, Imam had intended to sell the syrup.

Phensidyl, which contains codeine phosphate, was first prescribed as a cough syrup in the South Asian country, but was banned in the late 1980s due to its overwhelming popularity as a recreational drug.

Drug addiction, particularly to Phensidyl, has been on the rise in Bangladesh, where alcohol is generally illegal, spawning a lucrative cross-border smuggling trade.

Successive governments have tried to curb Phensidyl smuggling and urged Indian authorities to tackle scores of illegal syrup makers who set up factories across the border to meet demand in Bangladesh.