MARCH 21, 2005
Posted: March 22, 2005

Samaresh Baidya, Bhorer Kagoj
Saber Hossain Chowdhury Bhorer Kagoj
Abed Khan, Bhorer Kagoj
Mahfuz Anam, Prothom Alo
Matiur Rahman, Prothom Alo
Ekramul Haque Bulbul, Prothom Alo
Masud Milad, Prothom Alo

Seven editors, publishers and reporters from the Bangla-language daily Prothom Alo and the Bangla-language daily Bhorer Kagoj for publishing disputed reports about a judge’s educational background.

Samaresh Baidya, senior reporter for Bhorer Kagoj, was sentenced to two months in jail and a fine of 2,000 taka (about $US30). The others were fined 1,000 taka (about $US15) apiece. They were: Bhorer Kagoj Publisher Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Editor Abed Khan; Prothom Alo Publisher Mahfuz Anam, Editor Matiur Rahman, and reporters Ekramul Haque Bulbul and Masud Milad.

The journalists plan to appeal their convictions on contempt of court charges to the country’s Supreme Court, local sources told CPJ. Baidya was free pending appeal.

The convictions stem from October 2004 articles in both national dailies alleging that Judge Faisal Mahmud Faizee’s falsified his law school graduation exam results. Faizee had recently been appointed an additional judge to the High Court but was removed from the bench in the wake of the scandal, according to The Daily Star. The judge’s father, Mohammed Faiz, filed criminal contempt of court charges days later. The papers have stood by the accuracy of their reports.

Bhorer Kagoj’s attorney argued that the contempt of court laws are ill-defined and that the publications exposed the wrongdoing of an individual, according to The Daily Star. But the court ruled that the newspapers’ reports threatened to harm the image of the court, and found that they were “distorted, baseless and false,” according to the United News of Bangladesh news service.