The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on Monday set April 24 for hearing on a contempt of court charge faced by the two journalists of The Economist, a prestigious British magazine.
Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, chairman of the three-member tribunal that deals with the cases of the crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, fixed the date of hearing after receiving the written reply from the two journalists over the charge.
Barrister Mustafizur Rahman Khan, counsel for the two journalists of The Economist — Adam Roberts, South Asia bureau chief, and Rob Gifford, an Asia specialist, submitted the reply as asked by the tribunal.
On December 6 last year, the tribunal issued a suo moto notice asking the two journalists of The Economist to explain why contempt proceedings shall not be drawn against them for interfering in the ongoing war crimes trial and breaching the privacy of the tribunal’s chairman by hacking his email and skype accounts.
Considering such acts as a serious breach of privacy, the tribunal order said that hacking computer, email and skype accounts and obtaining confidential information from the ICT chairman illegally amount to influencing a judge of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
The contempt notice was issued under section 11 (4) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 that provides simple imprisonment that may extend to one year, or with fine up to Tk 5,000, or with both for the offence.
Meanwhile, The Economist published an article Saturday over International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh headlining `Justice in Bangladesh: Another kind of crime’.
The article has strongly criticised the war crimes trial of Bangladesh saying Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal is sullying its judicial and political systems.
Replying to the tribunal notice, the two journalists jointly denied the charge stating that they did not commit any act which may be regarded as an obstruction or abuse of the process of the tribunal or disobedience to any of its orders or directions or as anything which tends to prejudice the case of any party before it.
They also did not commit such act that tends to bring any of its members into hatred or contempt, or anything which constitutes contempt of the tribunal, said the joint statement by the two journalists.
They further said if any newspaper or news magazine receives information from any source which suggests that a judge or a member of a tribunal has beyond the knowledge of and without disclosure to the parties of legal proceedings before such judge or tribunal, contracted an outsider to discuss matters which pertain to such legal proceedings, then such information raises genuine issues of public concern warranting journalistic investigation and reporting, so that such information may be imparted to the public, the statement added.
In their written reply to the tribunal, The Economist journalists prayed for disposing of the case by accepting their reply and also refrain from initiating any proceedings as the alleged acts do not fall within the mischief of section 11 (4) of the ICT Act 1973.
Source: UNB Connect