Clearing the contempt of court charge facing the two journalists of The Economist, a prestigious UK-based weekly, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Sunday disposed of the case with some observations.
The two journalists of The Economist given clean chit are Adam Roberts, South Asia bureau chief, and Rob Gifford, an Asia specialist.
“There is no proof of involvement in the act of hacking and also find no substantial material in connection with the allegation against the two journalists,” said the tribunal. “So, the case is disposed of with some observations.”
The tribunal’s observations are: Journalists are barred from directly contacting the ICT judges in connection with the cases and asked them to refrain from scandalizing the war crimes tribunal with news collected from illegal sources; information about the cases can be procured from the engaged lawyers; and the information relating to the ICT is also available with its registrar.
On December 6 last year, his email and Skype accounts were hacked, Justice M Nizamul Huq, then chairman of the three member tribunal, issued a notice asking the two journalists of The Economist to explain why contempt proceedings should not be drawn against them for interfering in the ongoing war crimes trial and breaching the privacy of its chairman by hacking his email and Skype accounts.
Considering such acts as a serious breach of privacy, the tribunal notice had said hacking computer, email and Skype accounts, and obtaining confidential information from the ICT chairman illegally tantamount to influencing a judge of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
In the notice, Justice Nizam had further said a caller from The Economist asked him questions regarding his exchanges with Dr Ahmed Ziauddin, an expatriate Bangladeshi academic living in Brussels, regarding the trial. No one can ask a presiding judge about an ongoing trial that amounts to a serious offence.
The contempt of court notice was served under section 11 (4) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
Within five days of issuing the contempt notice, ICT-1 chairman Justice Nizam resigned amid controversy over the leak of his Skype conversation with an expatriate Bangladeshi legal expert.
Barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan appeared for the two journalists working for The Economist.