[William Sloan with Bangladesh Awami League leaders, Photo from Banglar Chokh]
Sloan, also an international human rights lawyer, went to the special judge’s court set up at the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) premises at about 2:00 pm, but the security personnel did not let him in where the court is housed.
“I am disappointed being denied access to the court to observe the trial of former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Sloan told reporters at the gate of the MP Hostel on the Jatiya Sangsad complex.
He said, “By not allowing me to enter the courtroom it has been proved that this is not a public trial… Nasty things happen in the dark.”
It is imperative to ensure transparency in the trial of the former prime minister, he observed.
Sloan said he had witnessed many important trials around the world, but this was for the second time in his life he had been obstructed in such cases. Earlier he was barred from witnessing the trial of dictator General Pinochet of Chile.
“This is a very bad thing. This is not a public trial. There is nothing to hide. Why are the proceedings held behind closed doors? This is not a good sign. I am very disappointed,” Sloan remarked.
Reacting to the obstruction of Sloan, Hasina’s counsel Shafique Ahmed told reporters that William Sloan did not come here as a lawyer of Hasina, but to watch the trial process as a jurist.
“This will raise the question about the transparency of the Bangladeshi judicial system before the international community,” he said. “It will undermine the image of Bangladesh abroad.”
Police inspector Salahuddin Khan, who was on duty, said Sloan had been barred from entering the courtroom as he came to Bangladesh as a tourist.
“If any foreigner comes to Bangladesh on a tourist visa, he requires permission from the Special Branch to visit any protected area,” the police official explained.
Asked how Canadian lawyer Payam Akhavan had entered the courtroom to witness Hasina’s trial in the Taka 2.99 crore extortion case late January, the officer said he did not have any information on him at that time.