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Lawyers stop journalists from covering court proceedings

(PPF/IFEX) - On January 26, 2010, lawyers belonging to the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) stopped journalists from covering court proceedings in the murder case of a 12-year-old maid, in which the former president of the LBA is the main suspect.

According to press reports, as police brought the accused, Advocate Chaudhry Naeem, to the Judicial Magistrate Cantonment in Lahore, the capital of the province of Punjab, a large number of lawyers started shouting slogans against the media, then forcibly stopped reporters from entering the courtroom. Muhammad Ishfaq, a reporter for Dunya TV, told PPF that some of the lawyers cut camera cables in order to stop the media from providing live coverage of the event.

Later, a meeting of the LBA convened by its newly-elected president, Sajid Bashir, condemned what it characterised as biased reporting on the case and vowed to deal with the media sternly. The LBA accused the media of having launched a "nefarious" campaign against its former president. It adopted a resolution against the media and announced that the lawyers would boycott the courts on January 27 in support of Naeem.

Meanwhile, Lahore Press Club president Sarmad Bashir, secretary Ziaullah Niazi and members of the governing body condemned the lawyers' conduct and asked the government to take action against those responsible for the attacks on the media. An appeal was issued to Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take serious notice of the issue.

Representatives of political parties and human rights groups who were present at the court were also mistreated by the lawyers.

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