A Bangladeshi lawyer has sought to lay sedition charges against four people, including the chief executive of Al Jazeera, following a high-level corruption investigation.
A Bangladesh court has dismissed an attempt to bring sedition charges against the chief executive of Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) and three others who contributed to a high-level corruption investigation in the country.
Lawyer Moshiur Malek had filed for sedition On February 17, after the investigation by Al Jazeera – All the Prime Minister’s Men – revealed how the chief of the Bangladeshi army, General Aziz Ahmed, helped his brother Haris Ahmed to escape jail time for a murder in 1996.
Al Jazeera Investigation unit reunited with Haris Ahmed in Hungary where he was living under the false identity of Mohammed Hasan and buying properties and businesses in Europe. The survey published a series of documents it shows how the army chief abused his power to help his brother escape arrest.
Malek described the Al Jazeera investigative report as “fictitious and flawed” and an attempt to “overthrow” the country’s government.
Local media reported on Tuesday that Dhaka metropolitan magistrate Shahidul Islam had ordered sedition charges against AJMN chief executive Mostefa Souag, journalists David Bergman and Tasneem Khalil, and the man to be dropped. Zulkarnian Saer Khan case, as the legal decision was not authorized by the government of Bangladesh.
In total, three of the army chief’s brothers were convicted in 2004 for the Dhaka murder eight years earlier, a conviction upheld by the Bangladesh High Court in 2007.
One of the brothers, Josef Ahmed, was sentenced to death, but in 2018, just weeks before General Ahmed’s appointment as head of the military, Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid granted him a pardon for the release from prison.
The day before Malek’s sedition charges were filed earlier this month, it was revealed that the Bangladesh Home Office had reached a secret deal to remove life sentences for murder imposed on the general’s two other brothers. Ahmed, Haris and Anis Ahmed.
The March 2019 ruling meant the two were free men, despite leaking their murder convictions and not serving any prison terms.
Al Jazeera discovered Anis Ahmed hiding in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, where he had bought a property with Haris Ahmed, who was using a false identity.
Days after the secret deal to lift their prison sentences, Haris and Anis Ahmed attended the high-profile wedding of General Ahmed’s son, held at army headquarters in Dhaka, attended by dignitaries international, including Hamid.
Home Secretary Asaduzzaman Khan said he had no knowledge of the deal, but told Prothom Alo newspaper: “A fugitive criminal has no legal rights. To obtain legal rights, he will have to surrender.
The Bangladeshi military has called Al Jazeera’s investigation a “malicious attempt … to debase a professionally highly qualified and universally accepted army chief of staff without any valid evidence.”
General Ahmed insisted that no criminal charges were pending against his brothers.