New Age article contemptuous but exonerated

International Crimes Tribunal on Sunday ruled a New Age article contemptuous but exonerated the editor, publisher and a journalist of the newspaper from any charge.

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The court also issued a 'serious caution' to English-language daily's editor Nurul Kabir and its special reports editor David Bergman. The publisher, ASM Shahidullah Khan was exonerated as he was abroad on Oct 2 when Bergman's article was published.

The International Crimes Tribunal, set up to try crimes against humanity, disposing of its first contempt case said its reluctance to initiate proceedings against the accused should not be seen as a sign of weakness.

The judges said they have exonerated New Age Editor Nurul Kabir and journalist David Bergman considering their works in favour of the trial of those involved in crimes against humanity.

The three-judge tribunal also cleared ASM Shahidullah Khan, publisher of the newspaper, as he was not in the country when the article was published.

The court suggested the trio to be cautious while writing and publishing articles on the proceedings of the tribunal.

The article written by David Bergman, editor of special reports, was published in the newspaper’s OP-ED section on October 2, 2011.

The tribunal on October 3 last year serviced a show cause notice on the trio to explain why contempt charges should not be brought against them for publishing the article containing certain “contemptuous” parts.

They claimed that the article positively criticised the proceedings of the tribunal against the accused, which is not contempt of court.

Bergman wrote, "To many in Bangladesh the guilt of Sayedee and the other detained men are foregone conclusions; tribunal hearings about cognisance and charge framing are simply procedural obstacles on a legal conveyor belt that will inexorably take Sayedee and the others towards their rightful convictions."

The second paragraph that the court had found problematic reads, "The accused are, to many people, already proved to be guilty with the tribunal simply acting as a mechanism to give their 'guilt' a judicial stamp."