Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Naya Dignata warned over 'false reporting'

Wednesday's proceedings at the war crimes tribunal began with the tribunal cautioning a Bengali daily, the Naya Diganta and its reporter Mehedy Hasan for a certain report.

The International Crimes Tribunal, set up to try crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War, directed the reporter and the authorities of the newspaper to publish a clarification on Thursday.

Hasan's report, carried on Wednesday, stated that the ninth prosecution witness, testifying against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, who has been charged with 20 counts of war crimes, including murder, rape, arson and loot, had failed to recognise the accused.

Mohammad Altaf Hossain Howladar, a 58-year old farmer from Tengrakhali village of Parerhat Union, was asked by prosecutor Syed Haider Ali to identify Sayedee in the courtroom.

Howladar then looked all around the courtroom, beginning with the judges nearest to him and on his left, then he swung towards the prosecution and the defence with a cursory glance at the observers and journalists, but could not quite make out where Sayedee was.

Then he turned sharply and wondered out aloud that there was a man sitting all the way at the back but related to the court that he could not quite make out who was sitting there behind the thick wooden bars.

Howladar strained further, moving his head right and left, and in the end stated that the man sitting at the back was indeed Sayedee.

While this was being noted in the court records that the witness identified Sayedee, the tribunal chairman, Justice Nizamul Huq told Haider Ali that in such cases as Sayedee, who was a well-known person throughout the country, there was hardly any need for such identification since anyone could identify him.

But the Naya Diganta report only stated the first part of the witness statement when he appeared to be wondering who the person was which the tribunal said was misleading and created a wrong impression among the people about the proceedings of the tribunal.

Huq said in his order that having gone through the article that was brought to the tribunal's attention by prosecutor Zead-Al-Malum and having perused the contents of the deposition as well as the cross-examination, the tribunal was convinced that it was "false reporting."

He said that considering Hasan's apology and submission that he would publish a clarification, the tribunal accepted that the report had been the result of a misunderstanding.

Huq directed the paper and the reporter to publish another report explaining the entire matter on the front page of the newspaper.

The order went on to say that the tribunal had been lenient although more reports of Naya Diganta by the same reporter had been brought to its attention and as such sought to caution both the reporter and the newspaper about publishing reports that might create a wrong impression about the tribunal's proceedings.

The tribunal disposed of the matter and exonerated Mehedy Hasan.