A Dhaka court has jailed Mufti Kazi Md Ibrahim for 15 months and 19 days after the controversial Islamic orator confessed to charges of “spreading misinformation” about the COVID-19 vaccine and against the Bangladesh government and neighbouring countries.
Dhaka Cyber Tribunal Judge AKM Zulfikar Hayat handed Ibrahim the jail term on Monday after he pleaded for forgiveness.
As per the rules of a hearing after framing charges, the judge read the allegations to the accused and asked him whether he accepted the charges. Ibrahim proceeded to plead guilty and the judge immediately declared his penalty to settle the case.
The tribunal's Bench Assistant Shamim Al Mamun said Ibrahim’s time in jail was included in the sentencing, which means the term is one year, three months and 19 days in prison.
Ibrahim’s “aggressive and unscientific” remarks grabbed authorities' attention during the pandemic in 2021. His claims that the coronavirus vaccine was causing “women to grow beards” and “men's voices to change” made waves on social media.
In one of his lectures, he also set out a “mathematical formula” for developing the coronavirus vaccine. In an interview with BBC Bangla earlier in 2021, he said that the “formula” for the vaccine came to an expatriate in a “dream” and he passed it on to Ibrahim.
He was then arrested at his home on Sept 28 that year and accused in two cases, one filed by police’s Detective Branch under the Digital Security Act over incendiary comments made by Ibrahim on social media, and the other for fraud, extortion and embezzlement involving a school filed by an individual named ZM Rana at Mohammadpur Police Station.
The case documents mentioned that Ibrahim posted on social media videos of himself spreading “lies and intimidating words during sermons”. Ibrahim did confess that the speeches were made by him.
State Prosecutor Nazrul Islam Shamim said the charges against Ibrahim were proven under the Digital Security Act 2018’s Sections 25, 31 and 25. The maximum punishment for the offences is five years. “But as he confessed to his crime, the judge accepted his current spell in prison as part of the jail term.”