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  1. Media Law
December 2, 2014

British journalist found guilty of contempt in Bangladesh for questioning official death toll figure

By PA Media Lawyer

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

The court ruled today 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 (£41) or go to jail for a week.

Bangladeshi officials say three million people were killed and hundreds of thousands of women raped during the war of independence against Pakistan.

Bergman said there was no evidence supporting that number. The issue is hugely sensitive in Bangladesh.

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

Head judge Obaidul Hassan said in his ruling that "freedom of expression can be exercised in good faith and public interest".

But Bergman was not acting in good faith or in the public's interest, he added.

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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".

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