A Dhaka court has ordered the Police Bureau of Investigation to conduct further investigation in the case against journalist Rozina Islam filed under the Official Secrets Act.
Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Tofazzal Hossain issued the order on Monday after hearing a 'no-confidence' petition challenging the veracity of the Detective Branch's final report in the case.
‘The court accepted the petition during the hearing. It also ordered further investigation into the case,” General Recording Officer Md Nizam Uddin confirmed.
The petition was filed by the health ministry's Deputy Secretary Dr Shibbir Ahmed Osmani, also the plaintiff in the case.
Lawyer Badrul Islam appeared on behalf of Osmani at the hearing, while Rozina was represented by Prasanta Karmakar. Rozina, a reporter for the Bangla newspaper Prothom Alo, also attended the hearing.
“The final report submitted by the DB police is not enough. According to the relevant section of the Criminal Procedure Code, the accused cannot be absolved of the charges without further investigation,” Osmani said.
On Oct 11 last year, the case's investigation officer Inspector Morshed Hossain Khan submitted the final report to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Dhaka, relieving Rozina of the charges.
No truth was found in the complaint filed against Rozina, Khan said in the report.
On May 17 last year, Rozina was confined to a room at the Secretariat’s Health Services Division for more than five hours over allegations of spiriting away important government documents and taking photos of the papers.
Rozina denied any wrongdoing. Her colleagues said she might have been targeted because of her reports on alleged irregularities in the health ministry amid the coronavirus pandemic. Her family also complained that she was physically harassed while being held at the Secretariat.
Rozina was handed over to police that night. She was taken to Shahbagh Police Station from the Secretariat. She was freed on bail on May 23.
The arrest of Rozina drew condemnation from media activists and rights organisations. The Human Rights Watch said the detention of Rozina was a “major strike against media freedom”.