Star editor sued for defamation
Local leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) in Laxmipur and Khulna yesterday filed two defamation cases against The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam.
In the cases, they demanded compensation of Tk 51 crore for "publishing without verification reports on Sheikh Hasina based on information provided by the DGFI after the 1/11 political changeover".
The cases were filed two days after some ruling Awami League lawmakers and leaders demanded Mahfuz Anam's arrest on sedition charge for publishing the reports in 2007.
Chowdhury Mahmudunnabi Sohel, president of the Laxmipur district BCL, filed a Tk 50-crore defamation suit with the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Farzana Akhter.
After recording Sohel's statement, the judge asked him to submit The Daily Star reports published in 2007, but did not set any specific date for this, the plaintiff's lawyer told our Noakhali correspondent.
The court would make further decisions after receiving necessary documents, he added.
Laxmipur district BCL General Secretary Rakib Hossain Lotus and three other leaders of the unit have been made witnesses in the case.
Talking to reporters, Sohel said that he claimed the compensation because the "DGFI-fed reports" tarnished the image of BCL's organisational chief Sheikh Hasina.
However, Hasina is in no way part of the organisation and it's the BCL president who is the organisational chief of the student body, according to its constitution.
The Awami League has seven associate organisations but the BCL is not among those. The student body was dropped from the list through an AL council in 2009.
The other case was filed by Mushfiqur Rahman Sagar, general secretary of Khulna district BCL. He demanded Taka 1 crore in compensation from Mahfuz Anam.
The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Khulna fixed March 3 for next hearing.
The court also ordered the officer-in-charge of Khulna Sadar Police Station to submit on March 1 a report on the charges brought against the accused, Sagar's lawyer Md Shah Alam told our Khulna correspondent.
During a talk-show aired live on a private TV channel on February 3, Mahfuz Anam made an introspective comment about a lapse in his editorial judgement in publishing a few reports that the newspaper could not independently verify during the last caretaker government's tenure.