A Cairo misdemeanor court adjourned the trial of three leading members of the Journalist Syndicate who are accused of disseminating false information and harboring fugitives from justice, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) announced Saturday.
The next hearing for syndicate head Yehia Qallash and board members Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rehim is scheduled for July 2.
The three defendants were summoned on May 29, in relation to the May 1 arrest of journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Sakka from the Journalists Syndicate, where they were holding a sit-in. The unprecedented action by security forces, who entered the Syndicate headquarters in order to arrest Badr and Sakka, ignited a crisis between the syndicate and the Interior Ministry.
A June 4 court hearing was postponed until June 18 to allow the defense team time to review case documents. The case was adjourned again on June 18, with the defense team requesting time to review documents relating to the case against Badr and al-Sakka, as well as testimony from board member Hatem Zakareya and the security personnel who raided the syndicate, aiming to prove that Balshy and Abdel Rehim were not in Egypt when the syndicate was raided.
Witnesses from the security forces as well as the syndicate are scheduled to testify at the next hearing.
In related news, the Cairo Criminal Court adjourned today the trial of two journalists in a libel suit filed by former Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend.
Hesham Younis, editor-in-chief of the state-owned Ahram Gate news portal, and Ahmed Amer, a reporter from the same outlet, were referred to trial last January over a new report about Zend published in September 2014. The report in question alleged that Zend, while previously serving as chair of the Judges’ Club, had squandered public funds by selling a piece of land in Port Said to his wife’s cousin below market price.
The trial will resume on June 29.