He read out selected parts of the 632-page verdict. The conviction means that Zia, the archrival of the current prime minister, could be barred from running in the December national elections.
She said that in 2015, Zia declared she would not return home without toppling Awami League government and to make this happen, she opted for brutal violence sitting in her office.
Lawmaker Nazmul Haque Prodhan, also general secretary of another JSD faction, said people had always been waiting for the verdict.
The other convicts are former lawmaker Kazi Salimul Haque Kamal, businessman Sharfuddin Ahmed, ex-premier's principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddiqui and her nephew Mominur Rahman.
Her lawyers said she planned to appeal against her conviction, and will mostly likely be freed on bail pending that process.
To recall, the BNP had boycotted the 2014 polls but is expected to contest the upcoming general election. Zia's chief counsel Khandakar Mahbub Hossain termed the verdict "dictated" and said, "It failed to reflect the truth". Authorities had already renovated a special cell for her and Zia has been given permission from the court to have a helper with her in jail.
According to complainant, a grant of USA $1,255,000 was transferred from the United Saudi Commercial Bank to the Prime Minister's Orphanage Fund. "Considering her age and status she will be provided all facilities she deserved".
Opposition members gathered in the capital, Dhaka, ahead of the ruling and later clashed with police.
Ahead of the ruling, law enforcement used teargas to disperse several hundred opposition activists. The crowd was dispersed by police personnel using tear gas. "No way we will accept this verdict", BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told AFP after the hearing. Tarique Rahman lives in exile in London. He was tried in absentia, along with two other people.
The high court earlier validated the trial in the lower court which on March 19, 2014 indicted Ms Zia on two graft charges brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Zia, the chairperson of the main opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party, along with five others was accused of embezzlement of funds meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.
"As the prosecution has been able to prove the charges against Begum Khaleda Zia, [this court] hands her down, under section 409 and 109 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, five years imprisonment", Judge Akhtaruzzaman told the court.