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Pabna court summons Star editor

A Pabna court yesterday summoned The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam on March 24 in a defamation case.

Judge Rezaul Karim of Senior Judicial Magistrate Court-1 passed the order after police submitted an investigation report complying with an earlier order, reports our Pabna correspondent, quoting Shah Alam, president of the district's Bar Association, also a counsel for the plaintiff.

Rejaur Rahim Lal, vice-president of Awami League Pabna unit, lodged the defamation suit with the court on February 16.

In the case statement, the complainant claimed The Daily Star editor defamed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by publishing a few reports based on information supplied by the Task Force Interrogation (TFI) cell during the caretaker government rule in 2007.

So far, Mahfuz Anam faces 79 lawsuits -- 62 defamation suits and 17 pleas for bringing sedition charges.

The Star editor has been facing a barrage of cases since February 9, days after he made an introspective comment about a lapse in his editorial judgement in publishing some reports, based on information given by the TFI cell during the 2007-08 caretaker government's tenure, without being able to verify those independently.

During the period, almost all the media outlets, both print and electronic, ran similar stories. 

This newspaper published 11 such reports -- seven on alleged corruption of Khaleda Zia, her two sons Tarique Rahman and Arafat Rahman Koko and other BNP leaders. Three reports were on allegation of corruption against Sheikh Hasina and one involving the then chief conservator of forests, Osman Gani.

The reports were based on the statements of some top Awami League and BNP leaders and businesspersons, who were interrogated by the TFI cell. Numerous cases were filed against senior politicians, including Hasina and Khaleda, mostly based on those statements.

Khaleda and other BNP leaders still face many of those cases, but the cases against Hasina and most other AL leaders were either quashed or withdrawn after the AL took office in 2009.

Presently, the cases being filed against Mahfuz Anam allege that the reports run by this newspaper led to the arrest of AL chief Sheikh Hasina, thus defaming her.