CAIRO: Cairo Criminal Court adjourned Monday the trial of 20 defendants, including four detained Al-Jazeera English reporters, to April 10, on accusation of spreading false news, belonging to “terrorist group” and fabricating footage that harms national security.
The court continued imprisoning the defendants and summoned a Ministry of Interior officer for not preparing the court for the display of evidence footage, reported Youm7.
The court, presided over by Mohamed Nagy Shehata, asked for assigning a forensic doctor to investigate if the defendants are subject to torture in prison and to present a medical report on their health condition. The judge gave the defendants’ families permission to visit them in prison.
During the trial session on March 24, the imprisoned defendants demanded to be transferred from Al-Akrab prison after allegedly being tortured and assaulted by police officers.
The prosecutors imprisoned the four Al-Jazeera journalists, one of them the Australian correspondent Peter Greste, on Dec. 30 over accusations of fabricating media footage and being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The former government headed by Hazem al-Beblawy deemed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group on December 25, 2013 after the bombing that targeted the Dakahlia Security Directorate, leaving 15 killed and 134 injured.
Several organizations have denounced imprisoning the reporters. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Egypt to free detained journalists and others imprisoned, the organization stated in a press release issued on their website on Feb. 27.
The first trial was held on Feb. 20, in the presence of foreign representatives, including the General Consulates of the Netherlands, Canada, U.K., U.S., and a delegation from the European Union, along with family members of the suspects.
BBC News, ITN, Sky, Reuters, NBC News and ABC News wrote an open letter to the Egyptian authorities protesting the continued imprisonment of journalists in Cairo, the Sunday Post reported on Feb. 19.
After June 30, several media outlets were under attack, accused of supporting the Brotherhood.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott asked interim President Adly Mansour on March 28 to release Greste.
Al-Jazeera reporter Andrew Thomas reported that “Abbott said Greste was doing his job and had no interest in damaging Egypt. Mansour said he hoped he would be released as soon as possible.”
Greste said during the trial on March 24 that they have been imprisoned for three months on “baseless charges,” adding that they have not seen “a single shred of evidence presented in the court that could possibly justify the charges or our imprisonment,” according to several reporters present in the courtroom.