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Poet Henry Sawpon released after securing bail

  • Published at 01:38 pm May 16th, 2019
Poet Henry Sawpon
Poet Henry Sawpon, dressed in blue T-shirt, flashes victory sign after being released from Barisal Central Jail on Thursday, May 16, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The poet has been released from jail following his arrest in a Digital Security Act case

Poet Henry Sawpon, arrested and jailed in a case filed under the Digital Security Act on Monday, has been released on bail.

Judge Md Shamim Ahmed of Barisal Metropolitan Magistrate Court granted Henry Sawpon bail around 12pm on Thursday, after hearing a petition filed by Henry's lawyers.

Henry's bail will be effective till June 30, which is also the date for the next hearing in the case, said the court’s General Recording Officer, Assistant Sub-Inspector Subrata Dey.

The 48-year-old poet was released from Barisal Central Jail later in the afternoon.

Around 3:30pm, leaders of different journalist and cultural organisations received Henry at the jail gate and took him to the Barisal Union of Journalists (BUJ) office for a reception, where they demanded unconditional withdrawal of the case to ensure freedom of speech.

The poet went home from the event. He was also scheduled to meet Barisal City Corporation Mayor Serniabat Sadiq Abdullah, to thank him for his efforts in having Henry released on bail.

On Wednesday, Mayor Abdullah had met with local journalists and cultural activists at the BUJ office, the leaders of socio-cultural organisations and religious communities, including the church, and law enforcement agencies, in a bid to settle the matter. 

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Two other people, Alfred Sarkar, 52, and Jewel Sarkar, 40, are also accused in this case filed under the Digital Security Act, Sections 28, 29, and 31.

On Tuesday, the eminent poet was arrested and sent to jail in the case, accusing him and two others of hurting Christian and Muslim community religious sentiments on social and mass media.

Henry’s arrest came after local police reportedly refused to accept a general diary he wanted to lodge following death threats from unidentified miscreants.

Since his arrest various journalist and socio-cultural organisations have been demonstrating in different parts of the country demanding his release.

During Thursday’s hearing, plaintiff Lawrence Lecavallier Gomes, a Barisal Catholic Church Father,  was present in court but did not oppose the bail plea because of ongoing negotiation efforts, said ASI Subrata.

Following Henry’s release, the leaders of journalist and socio-cultural organisations met with Father Gomes and Father Mukul Anthony Mondol of the Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Patuakhali, in the refreshment room of the District Bar Association, urging them to withdraw the case.

The Christian leaders assured them of considering the request after discussing the matter with their church and community.

Meanwhile, a delegation of journalists and cultural activists on Wednesday met Henry in prison and the poet also reportedly agreed to apologise if anyone was hurt by his remarks or activity.