Court approves asset freezes for 16 defendants in Case 1305/2018, including former ambassador Masoum Marzouk

An order to freeze the assets of 16 detained political activists and opposition figures, including former ambassador Masoum Marzouk and university professor Yehia al-Qazzaz, was approved on Wednesday, according to lawyer Mohamed Fathy.

On September 18, the privately owned Al-Shorouk news website reported that asset freeze procedures for the defendants in the case were underway, culminating in the North Cairo Criminal Court’s approval on Wednesday of a temporary asset freeze order issued by the public prosecutor last week.

Egyptian security forces arrested Marzouk, Qazzaz, as well as university professor Abdel Fattah Saeed al-Banna and activists Raed Salama, Sameh Seoudi, Nermeen Hussein and Amr Mohamed, among other public figures and activists, on August 23, the third day of Eid al-Adha.

The defendants were subsequently charged with aiding a terrorist organization, receiving funding for terrorist purposes and taking part in a criminal agreement with the intention of committing terrorist crimes — with the exception of Mohamed, who was instead charged with joining a terrorist organization — and made party to Case 1305/2018.

Both Marzouk’s daughter and Qazzaz’s son have been unable to access their family’s bank accounts since the asset freeze procedures began, lawyer Khaled Ali told Mada Masr on Tuesday.

Fathy told Mada Masr that the public prosecutor had temporarily ordered a freeze on the defendants’ assets last week, which went into effect before a court had officially approved it, an exception provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code.

Article 208 of the Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that assets can only be frozen pursuant to a criminal court order, but gives the public prosecutor the authority to issue a temporary freezing order in cases where it is deemed necessary or urgent. A criminal court must review the temporary order within seven days and announce a decision within 15 days of its issuance.

The court was scheduled to review the public prosecutor’s temporary asset freeze order on Sunday, but postponed the decision to Wednesday’s session, when it was approved.

On Tuesday, the Civil Democratic Movement — a coalition of eight political parties and approximately 150 public figures, including Marzouk — issued a statement condemning the government for its use of asset freezes as a tool to limit the freedom of its political opponents.

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