Shura Council case adjourned over new evidence

The prosecution in the case for the Shura Council defendants introduced new evidence on Saturday, throwing a curve ball at the last minute, and causing the defense to allege fraud and request adjournment to reconvene.

The defense team accused the prosecution of “forgery,” prompting the court to adjourn to February 5 to allow lawyers to prepare new statements.

The defense was scheduled to continue to make their argument on Saturday, and objected to the presentation of new evidence three sessions in to making their case.

Head of the court, judge Hassan Farid, insisted that the evidence introduced had been viewed by judge Mohamed Ali al-Feky’s court, which stepped down from hearing the case on September 15, 2014.

Farid claimed that, during the defense’s argument, the prosecution took note of the absence of evidence from the case files. The defense objected, arguing that the prosecution is an adversary in the case and shouldn’t be allowed to introduce new evidence at this late stage.

The newly introduced evidence includes the metallic blade of a 17 cm knife, without a handle, and a card that says, “I’m against the Muslim Brotherhood” on one side and “I’m against the government” on the other. When the court questioned Ahmed Abdel Rahman, the second defendant in the case regarding the blade, he denied that it was the same one that was confiscated from him when he was apprehended.

Abdel Rahman said the blade he had in his possession, which the prosecution confronted him with during an earlier stage of proceedings, was a broken kitchen knife that was much smaller than the one presented by the prosecution. He added that he was carrying the blade to fix it at a shop in Downtown, among many other objects in his bag, including books and clothes that he usually takes to work.

Abdel Rahman was reportedly arrested while attempting to stop the police from arresting female activists taking part in the protest. He was not demonstrating, and came across the clashes on his way to work. In addition to charges of protesting and thuggery, Abdel Rahman is accused of carrying a weapon.

Khaled Ali, who’s a member of the defense team, referenced the transcript of the court session held on March 23, 2014, when the court viewed the evidence introduced by the prosecution. The evidence introduced then included a 30 cm bent metal object, a white mobile phone, two CDs and a technical examination report. After the evidence was viewed by the defense, it was sealed in a brown envelope and marked by the court clerk.

“We are surprised to see that the prosecution presented the new evidence inside a white envelope and not the brown one. Aside from police markings, there is no writing on the envelope that proves that it was examined by the previous or current court,” Ali said.

Defense lawyer Mahmoud Belal also pointed out that the envelopes holding the evidence were “bright white and clean, with no evidence of storage from November 26, 2013 until today.”

Ali requested that the court confiscate the envelopes and accused the prosecution of forging the writing on them. He also demanded that they be referred to the forensic department to prepare a report matching the dating of ink used to write on the envelopes against the dates mentioned in the writing. He emphasized the importance of referring the defense’s forgery accusations against the prosecution to an investigative judge and not to the public prosecution.

The previous court session on Thursday witnessed an intense attack from defense lawyer Khaled Ali, during his three-hour long argument. He was scheduled to continue this on Saturday, before the judge was due to announce his verdict. However, the introduction of new evidence forced the lawyers to demand postponing the case until they can prepare a new argument.

The case dates back to events that took place on November 26, 2013, when a number of activists organized a protest against military trials for civilians opposite the Shura Council while the constitutional committee was in session. The police forcefully dispersed the protest and arrested activists who were present at the scene, as well as a number of others.

The following day, activist Alaa Abd El Fattah’s name was added to the case and an arrest warrant was issued against him. Despite Abd El Fattah’s announcement that he would voluntarily surrender himself to prosecution, police broke into his home and arrested him before he could do so.

Judge Mohamed Ali al-Feky had sentenced 25 defendants involved in the case in absentia, including Abd El Fattah, to 15 years in prison and a LE100,000 fine each, as well as five years probation. The retrial before a new court ordered that the defendants return to detention. 

The defendants are facing charges of assaulting a police officer, stealing his walkie talkie, organizing a protest without a permit, rioting and blocking the road, as well as destroying public property and thuggery. 

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