Bangladesh apex court jails Amar Desh Editor

Dhaka : Bangladesh’s Supreme Court Thursday convicted a politician, who heads a pro-opposition newspaper, for committing contempt of court and sentenced him to a jail term. This is said to be the first such conviction in the country.

Mahmudur Rahman, a former energy advisor to the government and the acting editor of the Bengali language daily Amar Desh, is already in jail facing charges of sedition. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for contempt of court.

The apex court also fined him Tk 100,000 ($1,436). If he fails to pay the amount, he will have to serve one more month in jail, Star Online, website of the Daily Star said quoting the court order.

A six-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim handed down the imprisonment for publishing a news item in the daily April 21 with the headline “Chamber manei sarkar pakkhe stay” meaning “Chamber bench means stay order in favour of the government”.

The court took stern view of Rahman and questioned his journalistic credentials.

A judge on the bench called him “an editor by chance” as he does not have academic qualification of journalism, nor did he ever work as a reporter or sub-editor.

“This judgment will prevent the trend of committing contempt of court and nobody will dare to tarnish the image and dignity of the apex court,” the court observed.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said this is the first time the apex court convicted any person and sentenced him to jail for committing contempt of court.

Two lawyers filed the petition May 2 against Rahman and four journalists of the daily for publishing the report.

Rahman’s case has hit international headlines. Reporters Sans Borders, a journalists’ global organisation, has accused the government of persecuting Rahman to curb dissent and opposition viewpoint.

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