A tribunal in Dhaka today fixed August 30 to pass an order in a contempt of court proceeding initiated against Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury.
The three-member International Crimes Tribunal-2 led by Justice Obaidul Hassan set the date after hearing the arguments from both the petitioner and defence counsels.
Zafarullah, also freedom fighter, was present at the court and a video clip containing the remarks of Jafarullah demonstrated in large screen inside the court room.
Yesterday, Zafrullah offered unconditional apology to the tribunal for his comment on June 10 that drew contempt of court proceedings against him.
Zafrullah faced contempt charges for criticising a verdict of a tribunal on Bangladesh-based UK journalist David Bergman last December, and he (Zafrullah) was sentenced to one hour's imprisonment in the courtroom and fined Tk 5,000 on June 10 for this.
On December 2 last year, the tribunal found Bergman, editor (special reports) of English daily the New Age, guilty of contempt for writing two blog posts in January 2013 on the verdict in the case against convicted war criminal Abul Kalam Azad. The journalist was sentenced to imprisonment till rising of the court that day and fined Tk 5,000.
The daily Prothom Alo on December 20 last year ran a report under the headline “50 people express concern over Bergman's punishment”. The signatories of a statement said the order would curb freedom of expression, according to the report. One of the signatories Khushi Kabir later held back from the statement.
When the tribunal asked 49 people to explain their statement, 26 signatories apologised unconditionally. The court exonerated them from the charge, but initiated contempt proceedings against 23 as it was not convinced with their replies.
On June 10, the tribunal pardoned 22 signatories as they regretted their action and “were not well aware of the consequences of the action.” But the court punished Zafrullah as he committed the same offence twice.
Earlier, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 had found his comment on the war crimes trail contemptuous, but pardoned him with a serious caution.
Under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, a contempt convict cannot challenge the order of a tribunal. But the High Court recently observed that a convict can do so.
A freedom fighter, Zafrullah Chowdhury, along with Dr MA Mobin, visited the frontlines of the war during Bangladesh’s War of Independence, and began treating wounded freedom fighters. With the help of Bangladesh’s government in exile, they established Bangladesh Field Hospital on the eastern border near the Tripura and Comilla districts. In 1972, the field hospital was renamed Gonoshasthaya Kendra or People’s Health Centre.