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Journalists barred from covering court case against colleagues

(PPF/IFEX) - The police in the city of Muzaffarabad did not permit media persons to enter the court room on 27 July 2009 to cover the case against three journalists who had been accused of scandalising the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

According to press reports, when media teams from Islamabad and other areas reached the court building, they saw a large contingent of police at court premises, banning entry to everyone except lawyers. The police cited "security concerns" as the reason for the restrictions.

Muhammad Din Mughal, vice president of Central Press Club, Muzaffarabad, told PPF that the three-member bench headed by AJK Chief Justice Chaudhry Riaz Akhtar conducted the hearing of the petitions filed against the constitution of the bench in the contempt of court cases against three journalists, Shakeel Turabi, chief editor, South Asian News Agency (SANA), Sardar Ashiq, news editor, SANA and Amin Butt, the Mirpur-based correspondent of ARY One World television network.

Mughal said that the journalists were charged by the court for releasing a news item on 5 July about the awarding of illegal extra marks to the AJK CJ Akhtar's daughter Nowal Riaz in the annual examination of 9th class by the AJK Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (AJKBISE) in a questionable manner.

Mughal further said that police officers had surrounded the Supreme Court and disallowed entry to all local people along with journalists and deprived them of the right to cover the story.

The AJK adjourned the hearing of the contempt case until 3 August.

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