Bangladesh court: UK journalist guilty of contempt

AP News
Posted: Dec 02, 2014 8:39 AM

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A special tribunal in Bangladesh dealing with war crimes committed during the country's independence war found a British journalist guilty of contempt Tuesday for questioning the official death toll of the 1971 conflict.

The court ruled that a 2011 blog post and two other articles by David Bergman offended the nation and ordered him to pay a fine of 5,000 Takas ($65) or go to jail for a week.

Bangladeshi officials say 3 million people were killed and 200,000 women raped during the country's war of independence against Pakistan. Bergman said there was no evidence supporting that number. The issue is hugely sensitive in Bangladesh.

Head judge Obaidul Hassan said in his ruling that "freedom of expression can be exercised in good faith and public interest." But he added that Bergman was not acting in good faith or in the public's interest.

Bergman works for New Age, a Dhaka-based English-language daily, and contributes to the British newspaper The Telegraph.

Abul Kalam Azad, a lawyer who filed the petition against Bergman, said the judgment was "fair." But Bergman's lawyers told reporters that his posts and articles were within the "permitted limits of fair criticism."