Monday, October 24, 2011

3 Oct 2011: New Age contempt claim

Prior to the main order 'framing charges' against Delwar Hossain Sayedee given on 3 October, the Tribunal read out an order in which it claimed that an article written by me in New Age was contemptuous. It asked that I, the editor of the paper (Nurul Kabir) and the paper's publisher (ASM Shahidullah Khan Badul) - with the last two alleged to have 'aided' the publication of the alleged contemptuous article - are asked to provide a written response to the Tribunal setting out why it should no initiate proceedings under section 11(4) of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973.

Section 11(4) of the 1973 Act states, 'A Tribunal may punish any person, who obstructs or abuses its process or disobeys any of its orders or directions, or does anything which tends to prejudice the case of a party before it, or tends to bring it or any of its members into hatred or contempt, or does anything which constitutes contempt of the Tribunal, with simple imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to Taka five thousand, or with both'.

The article in question was published on 2 October and called, 'A Crucial Period for the International Crimes Tribunal'

Below is a copy of the written order made by the Tribunal. It should be noted that we have, since this order was made, responded in written submissions to the Tribunal which argue, strongly, that the article in question is not in contempt of court under the applicable laws of Bangladesh as set out by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. An oral hearing has been set for 27 November 2011. The written responses will be made public at the time of oral hearing.
'It has come to our Notice that a special report under the caption, "A crucial period for International Crimes Tribunal" written by by Mr David Bergman has been published in the Daily New Age on 2nd October 2011. Upon perusing the report, we have found some objectionable comments against the sanctity and impartiality of the Tribunal which are reproduced below.

(a) To many in Bangladesh the guilt of Sayedee and the other detained men are foregone conclusions; tribunal hearings about cognisance and charge framing are simply procedural obstacles on a legal conveyor belt that will inexorably take Sayedee and the others towards their rightful convictions.

(b) The accused are, to many people, already proved to be guilty with the tribunal simply acting as a mechanism to give their ‘guilt’ a judicial stamp.

(c) This raises two key issues. First, the tribunal seems to have taken cognisance for many of these twenty offences on the basis of looking at just one witness statement. It is difficult to see, unless the statements were extremely strong, how the tribunal could come to the conclusion that there is ‘prima facie’ evidence for the commission of an alleged ‘crime against humanity’ which took place forty years ago just on the basis of one witness statement.

(d) The rules, however, are clear that cognisance must be taken of each offence. Moreover, there is a separate issue about whether the tribunal even had, in its hand, all the witness statements when it took cognisance.

It may be noted that in the earlier occasion on 14th April, 2011, Mr David Bergman wrote another article in a daily terming the tribunal as 'Rubber stamp and backboneless.' In an open court, his attention was drawn to those remarks by this tribunal and took lenient view in the matter considering him a foreign journalist, he was simply cautioned with an expectation that he would be more careful in making reports about the functions of the Tribunal.

It appears from the para (a) and (b) of this Notice that Mr David Bergman has again tried to establish the Tribunal as a judicial stamp acting like a tool for finding accused Sayedee guilty under a legal coverage. The above comments against the tribunal appear to have been deliberately made in order to lower down the prestige and honour of the Tribunal in the estimation of the people at large all over the world.

The order of taking cognisance of offence and the subsequent orders of this tribunal will speak a volume that this tribunal after perusing formal charge, 1st volume containing the statement of 30 witnesses and DVD cassette containing the statements of all witnesses took cognisance of offence and those papers were submitted much earlier before the tribunal by the prosecution.

But Mr David Bergman has again tried to establish as indicated in para (c) and (d) stating that the tribunal took congisance of offence on the basis of statement of only one witness. Where he got it? It is evident that Mr David Bergman has deliberately distorted the judicial orders of the Tribunal in order to tarnish the image of the Tribunal to paid and to paint it to as an biased form of justice.

Editor Mr Nurul Kabir and publisher Mr ASM Shahidullah Khan of the daily New Age have aided Mr David Bergman in making contemptuous comments against this Tribunal by publishing the said article in their esteemed daily, New Age: thus they are also held responsible.

That the opposite parties namely (1) David Bergman, Editor Special Report, New Age, Bangladesh correspondent, Asia Calling, Freelance Journalist (2) Nurul Kabir, Editor New Age, Holiday Building, 30 Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka 1208 and (3) ASM Shahidullah Khan, publisher and chairman of the Editorial board, Holiday Building, 30 Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka 1208 are herby asked to show cause within 23 October as to why a proceeding under section 11(4) of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 shall not be initiated against them for the contemptuous reports noted in the body of this notice. Registrar is directed to enter and register the matter as Miscellaneous Case.

Copy of this notice be served upon the opposite parties.

Let the matter be placed in the list on 23.10.2011 for order.

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