Bangladesh: Supreme Court lawyer sent to jail in ICT case

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Supreme Court lawyer Imtiaz Mahmood was sent to jail by a Dhaka court yesterday, hours after police arrested him in a case filed under section 57 of the ICT Act about two years ago over his Facebook posts.

Supreme Court lawyer Imtiaz Mahmood was sent to jail by a Dhaka court yesterday, hours after police arrested him in a case filed under section 57 of the ICT Act about two years ago over his Facebook posts.

Police picked him up from his Banani home in the morning in compliance with an arrest warrant issued by a Khagrachhari court on January 21, court sources said. 

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Satya Brata Sikder passed the order after Sujan Saha, sub-inspector of Banani Police Station, produced the arrestee before the court.

In July 2017, one Shafiqul Islam filed the case against Imtiaz with Khagrachhari Sadar Police Station on charges of hurting his sentiments and inciting communal violence in the Chattogram Hill Tracts.

During hearing on a bail petition yesterday, Imtiaz’s lawyer Asaduzzaman Rachi told the court that his client was granted bail by the High Court till the submission of the probe report in the case. Possibly the HC order did not reach the Khagrachhari court and that was why the court issued the arrest warrant and police arrested him.

So he should be granted bail, the lawyer argued.

The magistrate said Imtiaz had been on bail till the submission of the probe report. Earlier, police pressed charges against him and the district court issued an arrest warrant against him as he did not appear before it.

In the charge sheet, police mentioned that Imtiaz used his Facebook account to misguide people through spreading false information and rumour with an ill motive to tarnish the country’s image, hurt religious sentiments and deteriorate law and order.    

Citing the first information report, police earlier told this newspaper that Shafiqul had accused Imtiaz of making several posts on Facebook from July 1-10 in 2017 regarding some fake incidents in the CHT region.

The plaintiff alleged that Imtiaz had tried to instigate communal violence in the CHT by making those posts, police said.

The Daily Star could not verify independently what actually the lawyer wrote in his Facebook posts about two years ago.

Following widespread criticism over the misuse of section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act, the government repealed the section last year.

However, it allegedly incorporated the content of the section in the Digital Security Act, 2018.

The government had said trials of cases already filed under section 57 would continue.

HENRY DENIED BAIL
A bail prayer of poet and journalist Henry Swapan was rejected by a Barishal court yesterday in a case filed under Digital Security Act, 2018, reports our Barishal correspondent.

Henry’s lawyer Syed Obiadullha Saju, also president of District Bar Association, told journalists that the court of Barishal Metropolitan Magistrate rejected the bail prayer as holding a hearing on it was beyond its jurisdiction.

He also said they would file an appeal with the district judge’s court today seeking bail for the accused.

Meanwhile, Barishal Mayor Serniabat Sadiq Abdullah yesterday said they were trying to settle the matter.

Speaking at a meeting with journalists and cultural activists at Barishal Union of Journalists, he expressed optimism that they would be successful in this regard.

In another development, a delegation of journalists and cultural activists met Henry at Barishal Central Jail yesterday.

Lackabaly Gomes, father of a Catholic church, filed the case with Kotwali Model Police Station on Tuesday against Henry on charges of hurting religious sentiments through making posts on social media. Police picked him up from his home in the city’s Bolpukur area on the same day.

Protesting his arrest, different socio-cultural and journalist organisations demanded his unconditional release and withdrawal of the case.

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