25 September 2013: ICT-1 Daily Summary –Motiur Rahman Nizami, PW-26; Abdus Sobhan, Pre-Trial Submissions; Contempt Charges against Channel 24 and others

Today the Tribunal heard matters in the following cases:

  1. Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami
  2. Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdus Sobhan
  3. Chief Prosecutor vs. Channel 24 and others

Chief Prosecutor vs. Motiur Rahman Nizami

In the case against Motiur Rahman Nizami, PW-26, the Investigation Officer (IO) Abdur Razzak, began to record his testimony in Court.

Chief Prosecutor vs. Abdus Sobhan

In the case of Abdus Sobhan, the Defense sought leave to have privileged communication with his client on Saturday. The Tribunal granted the request.

Contempt Proceedings

Today the Prosecution filed a petition for contempt under section 11(4) of the ICT Act, read with Rule 45 of Rules of Procedure.  The contempt charges are against the Managing Director of Channel 24, Chief Executive Officer of Channel 24, Executive Director of Channel 24, Head of Programme of Channel 24, Episode Producer of Muktobaak broadcasted on 18 September 2013 at 11 am, Mahmudur Rahman Manna (Anchor Muktoback of Channel 24), Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury (Trustee of Gonosastho Kendra), and Mahfuz Ullah (General Secretary of Center for Sustainable Development). The Tribunal heard the petition and set tomorrow for passing an order.

On 14 August 2013, in the case against Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, the Defense and Prosecution completed their arguments, and the Tribunal declared the case to be closed, awaiting verdict. The Prosecution submitted that on 18 September 2013 at 11 pm Channel 24 broadcast a television talk-show anchored by Mahmudur Rahman Manna. Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Trustee of Gonosastho Kendra and Mahfuz Ullah, General Secretary of Center for Sustainable Development were the guests. On this show, the guests reportedly claimed that the Defense had not been allowed to bring all of the four witnesses they had wished to call.  The guests allegedly claimed that this undermined the rights of the Accused, and was bound to cast doubt upon all the proceedings of this Tribunal. The Prosecution submitted that this statement rendered the talk show biased, and further that it undermined the confidence of the people in the integrity of the Tribunal and its process.

For these alleged comments, the Prosecution asked the Court to issue a contempt notice against a long list of Channel 24 affiliated individuals, as enumerated above. The Prosecution further sought an order forbidding further broadcasting, circulation or use of the recorded talk-show episode containing the offending comments. The Prosecution urged the Court to consider sentencing those responsible for the comments to imprisonment of one year and/or to fine them for the indiscretion.