Sunday, October 20, 2019

FIFA Council member Kiron secures bail in ‘defamation’ case

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-03-19 18:24:57 BdST


A Dhaka court has granted bail to the Bangladesh Football Federation’s women’s wing chairperson and FIFA Council member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron who was arrested in a defamation case under the Digital Security Act.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Shorafuzzaman Ansari granted her bail until Apr 2 on Tuesday. 

Lawyer Liakat Hossain represented Kiron during the hearing while Barrister Refayetul Karim Lenin fought in the court against her bail.

Abul Hasan Chowdhury Prince, who filed the case against her, is a permanent member of Mohammedan Sporting Club and Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club. He is also a former joint-secretary of Bangladesh Cricket Board. 

Prince filed the case with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Station on Mar 12 accusing Kiron of making derogatory remarks on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Kiron was arrested in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi following a warrant issued by Metropolitan Magistrate Shorafuzzaman Ansari on Mar 16.

She was facing defamation charges for accusing Hasina of favouring cricket over football.

Metropolitan Magistrate Abu Sufian Md Noman sent Kiron to jail rejecting her bail petition after the law enforcers produced her before the court after arrest. 

Following the incident, FIFA and Asian Football Confederation, or AFC, expressed deep concerns over the arrest of the official.

On Monday, Amnesty International issued a statement demanding her immediate and unconditional release, saying she just exercised her right to freedom of expression. 

"Championing football is not a crime. Mahfuza Akter Kiron was merely exercising her right to freedom of expression by stating that the Prime Minister favoured cricket over football," said Saad Hammadi, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International.

The arrest of the FIFA official marks the latest attack on freedom of expression in Bangladesh, Amnesty said.

Following the enactment of the “draconian” Digital Security Act in 2018, there has been a chilling effect felt across civil society and the media, giving rise to self-censorship, according to Amnesty.