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Dhaka Tribune

Prosecution for policy to cover war crime trials

Update : 30 Apr 2014, 07:52 PM

International Crimes Tribunal prosecutor Tureen Afroz sought the formulation of a media policy on how to cover its proceedings, yesterday.

During the hearing on a contempt allegation against Channel 24 over comments made by participants of a talk show, she said: “When we have many directives on how to act on women issues or violence, then why not for the International Crimes Tribunal?”

Following the hearing, the tribunal 1 led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim set June 12 for the passing of an order whether the contempt proceedings would start or not.

On September 26 last year, responding to a prosecution plea, the tribunal asked eight persons including the top management of private television Channel 24 to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated for airing the “scandalous” talk show titled “Muktobaak” on September 18.

Talk show participants Zafrullah Chowdhury of Gonoshasthaya and Mahfuz Ullah of the Centre for Sustainable Development made comments about the case against war criminal Salauddin Quader Chowdhury while his trial was underway. 

In the order, the tribunal asked the two participants to appear before the court in person. The six others were asked to submit written explanations.

Zafrullah and Mahfuz appeared at the tribunal in person yesterday, along with other parties. Except for Zafrullah, everyone made unconditional apologies for doing anything that the tribunal may consider as contempt.

Without engaging a lawyer, Zafrullah himself submitted a written reply and asked for his acquittal from the charge. He also urged the tribunal to allow him to read out the reply. He claimed, sticking to his position, that he had expressed his views as he had the right to freedom of speech. He said several times: “I did not commit any offence by making an open statement.”

The tribunal then criticised him for his language: “We respect you for your work but in your reply you have written the name of a judge without prefacing it with ‘Justice.’ We did not expect this from you.

“The language you used is alright for your living room, but when you are replying against a contempt notice, you should be sincere about it.”

Tureen Afroz then submitted that an apology must come from the heart, not from the pen. She mentioned about some linguistic faults in the reply. She also criticised the sentence where Zafrullah stated that freedom fighters do not fear to be tried but get angry about facing intentional allegations.

The prosecutor said freedom of expression had some limitations too.

Tajul Islam, counsel for Mahfuz, submitted that his client just said a few words at the show following Zafrullah’s speech.

Tureen claimed that Tajul’s statement was not true as his client had made some comments too.

Asaduzzaman, counsel for Channel 24, submitted that in a live programme they have nothing to do. But acknowledging the matter, they apologised.

Tureen then raised the issue of media policy, mentioning that every live programme did not have the some policy to run it.

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