CAIRO: The Cairo Criminal Court (CCC) adjourned the second trial of 269 defendants including activist Ahmed Doma in the case of setting fire to the Institut d’Egypte and the Cabinet headquarters to April 1 to complete the hearing of the eyewitnesses’ testimony.
Prosecution witness Hisham al-Shazly testified Thursday that he was offered a bribe of 20,000 EGP ($2,873) by presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi to change his testimony against activist Ahmed Doma during the 2012 investigations of setting fire to Institut d’Egypte in December 2011, Youm7 reported from Shazly’s testimony.
According to Shazly’s testimony, given before Cairo Criminal Court, Doma asked him for benzene to “burn the Cabinet headquarters” on Dec. 18, 2011.
The witness said he was riding a motorbike near the Cabinet when Doma, whom he claims he did not know at the time, spoke to him for five minutes.
According to the witness, he said to Doma “this is the money of the people, this is wrong,” after he told him that he only had enough benzene to run the motorbike. Later, the witness recognized Doma by chance when he saw him on television, according to his testimony.
On Dec. 17, under the rule of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), clashes erupted between military forces and protesters after the former forcibly dispersed a sit-in held in the area to demand handing power to civilians.
The protesters and the Egyptian authorities have since exchanged recrimination over the arson that led to the loss of one of Egypt’s main cultural heritages.
Doma was arrested before in January 2012 on grounds of inciting violence during these events. He was also arrested in April 2013 for calling former President Mohamed Morsi a “killer” on television. In 2009, under the reign of former President Hosni Mubarak, he was arrested for “illegally crossing the border” to Gaza.
Institut d’Egypte, a product of Napoleon Bonaparte’s occupation of Egypt in the late 18th century, lies near the parliament and Cabinet headquarters, close to Tahrir Square. It housed thousands of precious handwritten manuscripts, the majority of which was destroyed in the fire.
Reporting by Nermeen Suleiman and Hanan Fayed.