Several political trials adjourned on technicalities

A case in which three political activists have been accused of assaulting police officers was adjourned to March 5, as police couldn’t afford to transfer the defendants from prison, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) asserted on Sunday.

The three activists are founders of the April 6 Youth Movement Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, as well as activist Ahmed Douma. The case that is ongoing relates to a six-month sentence handed to the defendants in absentia for allegedly assaulting police, according to Douma’s wife Nourhan Hefzy. The three were previously sentenced to three years in prison in 2013 for violating the protest law and vandalism of private property.

A scuffle broke out between the jailed activists and police officers guarding them during their trial in 2013. The defendants claimed they were beaten and tortured and presented a formal complaint to the judge. In return, the officers accused the activists of assault, resulting in the six-month sentence. Lawyers appealed the verdict in January and the defendants were granted a retrial.

Also on Sunday, an appeal hearing concerning extending the detention of activist and doctor Taher Mokhtar and two others for 15 days was adjourned to Wednesday, lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told Mada Masr.

Mokhtar and his two flatmates were arrested shortly before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution from his downtown apartment for possessing printouts that allegedly called for violating the constitution and overthrowing the government. Mounir said investigators accused the defendants of inciting people to protest on the revolution anniversary, but the formal charges do not reflect this.

Evidence presented by the prosecution includes laptops, mobile phones and a paper by the Doctors Syndicate on poor prisoner healthcare, not any printouts, according to the lawyer, who added that a piece of paper was included with the evidence that doesn’t belong to any of the defendants.  

“The case is empty and there is no evidence to support it. In a situation in which court rulings are based on politicized orders instead of the law, everything is to be expected,” Mounir argued. Mokhtar and his friends could face prison sentences ranging from three to five years, he added.

Mounir also presented an appeal before state security prosecution for the release of Mahmoud Mohamed, a 20-year-old detainee who has served two years in pre-trial detention for wearing an anti-torture t-shirt in January 2014. This is the maximum period of imprisonment permitted in Egypt without a conviction.

Judge Moataz Khafagy extended Mohamed’s detention by 45 days on February 9. Mounir filed a complaint with the Supreme Judicial Council and the prosecutor general for Mohamed’s release on January 27, as well as another complaint against Khafagy for violating the Constitution and the law. After two years of investigations, the public prosecution decided last week to refer the case to state security prosecution, which Mounir claimed is an attempt to waste more time.

Mohamed’s health is deteriorating as a result of a previous leg injury that has been left untreated, according to his brother Tarek Mohamed, who said there was an altercation between Mohamed and the prison doctor. Tarek asserted, “I will submit a request to the Doctors Syndicate and the National Council for Human Rights for Mohamed to be checked at an external hospital, as it is our right as family to receive a report on his medical condition.


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