CAIRO: The trial of political activist Alaa Abd El Fatah and 24 others in the 2013 Shura Council protests case was adjourned to Dec. 11 Thursday to continue hearing witnesses.
Thursday’s hearing was scheduled to resume listening to prosecution witnesses. The defendants will remain in jail until the next hearing, despite a request submitted by the defense to release them on bail. The defendants were previously sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison.
The trial stems from the Shura Council events that took place in November 2013, when dozens of activists gathered to object the ratification of the 2013 Protest Law and a constitutional article allowing civilians to be tried in military courts.
When the gathering was dispersed by security forces, the detained activists faced charges of inciting riots, blocking roads and orchestrating a protest without a license.
Due to most of the alleged incidents having taken place over a year ago, most of the prosecution witnesses in court Thursday referred to their previous statements in the investigations, and did not answer the defense’s questions.
By the end of the hearing, defense attorney Khaled Ali submitted a complaint accusing the prosecution of perjury, because he claimed the prosecution’s witnesses said they did not remember the incidents despite being at the scene, Youm7 reported.
“’We can’t force the witness to answer,’” said Chief Judge Hassan Fareed, according to Ahdaf Soueif, Abd El Fatah’s aunt, who live-tweeted from the court.
One of the witnesses in the case, former Kasr el-Nil Police Chief Hany Gerges, said the protesters gathered outside the Shura Council, blocked the road, threw stones and chanted against the Protest Law and military trials, according to Youm7. He added security forces used water cannons to disperse the crowd, and arrested some of them.
Police office Mahmoud Ahmed, another witness, denied seeing the assault of fellow officer Emad el-Tahoun, who accused the defendants of attacking him and stealing his radio.
Youm7 reported Central Security Forces conscript Mohamed Abdel Aal said he was attacked by the protesters and was hurt in his left arm, but he could not remember who the attackers were.
Soueif said Fareed interfered multiple times to answer for witnesses, and Ali asked him to stop.
Amr Imam, a member of the defense team, asked a police witness if they knew they were breaking the law when they arrested people out of uniform. The judge answered the lawyer saying: “’Detectives always wear civilian attire. Do you want detectives to wear a uniform? He told you he only arrested attackers,’” according Soueif.
Also, when a witness answered he did not remember whether he was carrying his gun during the dispersal, the judge instructed him to refer back to his statements in the previous investigations, Soueif said.
Additional reporting by Amer Mostafa