CAIRO: Disputes emerged once again Wednesday between the Cairo Criminal Court and the defendants in the 2011 Cabinet Protests Case involving political activist Ahmed Doma and 260 other defendants following the referral of defense lawyer Khaled Ali to prosecution on charges of “disrupting court order.”
Ali, in addition to being a lawyer, is a prominent activist and sometime politician who ran for president in 2012.
A video released by Youm7 showed a part of the session where Ali demanded the court give access to all documents related to the case and that the case’s fragmented files be combined.
“So you want the police to be humiliated and just do nothing about it? Stay and watch people burn down buildings?” the judge retorted in reference to the Institut d’Egypte fire that started during the protests.
The court entered recess after the brief verbal quarrel. In response to his referral to prosecution, Ali filed an official complaint to the Supreme Judicial Council and the attorney general against his verbal sparring partner, Judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata.
“Shehata’s remarks are equal to a prior judgment in a case that is still in process,” read the complaint issued by Ali’s office Wednesday and published on social media by Mokhtar Mounir, a human rights lawyer and member of the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
“Why are you stating this before the verdict is issued?” Ali had said to the judge, asking the statement to be registered in the documents of the case, to which the judge responded with a careless hand gesture.
“The judge is biased against the defendants. We asked for all prosecution papers related to the case because they are bringing 48 eyewitnesses against my client,” Ali told Al-Masry Al-Youm on the sidelines of the trial. “We asked the court to hear three of ours and they refused.”
In his report, Ali said the judge had denied the defense seven demands related to adding relevant case files into evidence. These included a report issued by a fact-finding committee regarding the incidents and documents related to Central Security Forces and paratrooper operations that dispersed the protests in front of the Cabinet from Dec. 16-23 in 2011.
Ali also said the court only watched a random selection of videos related to the incidents, yet maintained all videos among the evidence included in the case. Ali added that five out of six defense lawyers in the case have faced accusations by the court.
He said the court also overlooked a claim made by his fellow defense lawyer Osama el-Mahdy, who accused prosecution authorities of making fraudulent investigations by hearing the testimony of only five eyewitnesses out of 11 who were supposed to speak.
The defense, backed by Doma, is convinced that the court is taking a political stance regarding the case. They previously requested a change of judges but were refused. After his health severely deteriorated and he required transfer to a hospital in October, Doma stated in one of the court sessions that he would hold the court responsible for delaying his transfer.
Case judge carries legacy of controversy
Shehata, a senior judge in the Cairo Criminal Court, is assigned to look into cases related to terrorism, violence and protesting. He has undertaken several controversial cases, including the Al Jazeera journalist case commonly referred to as the Marriott Cell Trial.
The defense team in that case objected to the prosecution examining evidence without the presence of defense lawyers, Al-Shorouq reported on May 4. Despite weak evidence, the journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison.
Shehata is also the presiding judge of the court looking into the case known as the “Rabaa Operation Room,” under which Egyptian-American Mohamed Sultan, son of Muslim Brotherhood member Sala Sultan, is jailed. Shehata rejected a U.S. request to release Sultan due to his deteriorating health condition during the court session held on Oct. 22, Youm7 reported.
Finally, Shehata’s name featured among 22 judges on a “black list” concerning the 2005 parliamentary elections’ fraud case. “We Are Watching You,” an NGO fighting corruption and defending human rights established in 2005, monitored the parliamentary elections and filed an official report to the Ministry of Justice in May 2013 accusing the judges of manipulating votes in favor of some candidates.
Shehata, who was working in Damietta at the time, was accused of forging election results in favor of a member of the dissolved National Democratic Party over a Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Ismail.