Cairo Criminal Court extended the detention of the Cabinet Clashes defendants, including activist Ahmed Douma, until a court session on October 18, in order to hear from the prosecution’s witnesses.
Presiding Judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata upheld his widely criticized decision to ban Douma’s transfer to a health facility. He also authorized an examination by the prison doctor, as Douma had reportedly refused treatment at Manial Hospital.
Douma had to be assisted into the glass court cage for Saturday’s session. Defense lawyer Khaled Ali asked the judge to authorize Douma’s examination by a doctor, as he had complained of anal bleeding since being transferred to court.
A number of lawyers and activists reported on the court proceedings on Twitter, including lawyer Mahmoud Belal and activist Nazly Hussein. According to them, Douma said the court, “knows I’m sick and am carried to sessions in an ambulance.”
He attacked the judge’s previous decision to forbid his transfer to healthcare facilities without first obtaining written permission from the court. “I had to wait for the judge’s approval to be transferred to the hospital when I fell ill,” he said.
Douma clearly held Judge Shehata responsible for his deteriorating health, and criticized the quality of care he received at Manial hospital. “I have been bleeding since yesterday and the doctors weren’t able to treat me,” he said. “The ward where I was put is not even fit to treat a common cold. I have filed more than eight requests to allow my transfer to a private hospital at my own expense, but I was told the judge refused.”
Douma finished his statement by asking the judge and lawyers to end the session as soon as possible as he “couldn’t handle the pain anymore.”
“There are a lot of sessions yet to come, ending this one now won’t make a difference to you,” he concluded.
Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali repeated his request to obtain Douma’s medical reports, which the judge granted at the end of the session. He suggested the hindering of treatment by the court might lead to Douma’s death, and posited whether “a personal feud between the court and the defendant is leading them to endanger his life.”
Ali criticized previous closed court proceedings, including forbidding Douma’s wife, journalist Nourhan Hefzy, from attending sessions and subjecting lawyers and journalists to intensive searches at more than three checkpoints at the police academy, “just to humiliate us.”
Both the defendant and lawyer commented on the glass cage, in which defendants are held inside the courtroom. “We objected more than once to this cage we’re put in, which reminds us of an animal house and not a courtroom,” Douma said, while Ali described it “blocking sound and vision and destroying the defendant’s dignity.”
“If you want to put the January 25 revolution on trial, we’re all ready for you. Just grant us the same guarantees and rights you granted Mubarak and Adly,” Ali concluded.
Douma was sentenced to three years in prison for violating the Protest Law. He also faces separate charges over the December 2011 clashes between security forces and protesters in front of the Cabinet building.
Douma, along with Mohamed Adel, Wael Metwally and Mohamed Abdel Rahman, launched the “We are Fed Up” campaign, calling for other detainees to join them in a mass hunger strike against prison conditions and the controversial Protest Law, under which many political prisoners are being held — although Metwally and Abdel Rahman were released on bail on September 15, along with activist Alaa Abd El Fattah.
After suffering from previous health problems in prison, Douma’s medical condition has rapidly deteriorated during his hunger strike.
The Freedom for the Brave campaign has said at least 138 inmates are currently on hunger strike in Egypt’s prisons. Demands range from fair trials and better prison conditions to the revocation of the controversial Protest Law.
A growing number of Egyptian prisoners have joined the wave of hunger strikes, including well-known activists associated with the January 25 revolution who were detained on charges related to the Protest Law, as well as detainees serving sentences related to pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests.
Cairo Criminal court also ruled on Saturday that Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for 261 days and is in critical condition, be detained until his next hearing on October 15.