CAIRO: The retrial of Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed was adjourned Sunday to March 19.
The court decided to postpone the hearing after eight prosecution witnesses, including national security forces and technical experts, were absent; two of them were fined 500 EGP each for not showing up, and are expected to be present at the court’s next hearing.
Since he renounced his Egyptian citizenship in December, Canadian national Fahmy does not have possess identification other than a copy of his passport the court decided to give him at the second retrial hearing Feb. 23.
When Fahmy’s defense requested the original passport, which is now among the case exhibits, the court said it wants the Canadian embassy to contact the court officially.
“I hope that I do get a passport so I can at least travel locally inside Egypt,” Fahmy told journalists outside the court. He said he will need a recognized ID to live his life normally; rent a car, a hotel room and get married.
Fahmy also said “it is very unusual” for witnesses to not come to the court twice in a row, adding he is “shocked” that the name of their colleague Peter Greste, who was deported more than a month ago, is still read out at the court, indicating “inefficiencies and lack coordination.”
The three were charged with terror-related charges and spreading false news in favor of a banned organization, in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. They were initially sentenced in June 2014 to between seven and 10 years in prison, but they were granted a retrial by Cassation Court that overturned the verdict for what it saw as “lack of evidence” and “unserious pre-arrest investigations.”
The case has attracted wide international attention, and President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued a deportation decree in Nov. 2014 allowing foreign prisoners to be extradited.
In a recent interview, Sisi also stated that he could use his right to issue presidential pardons but only after the trial has finished, since he “cannot interfere in judiciary.”
Baher told The Cairo Post Sunday that he despite being unable to expect anything in his case, he does not want the case to end in conviction “because we did not do anything wrong; we want to clear our names and we want full acquittal.”
While Fahmy and Greste were sentenced to seven years, Baher Mohamed received a 10-year sentence for “possession of a weapon:” a single bullet that was found when the police raided his home. The trial proceedings as well as the sentences caused extreme criticism from human rights groups as well as foreign governments.
Evidences presented in their case during the first trial were criticized as “sham and unrelated,” where the court screened video clips from stations other than Al Jazeera, and a documentary about horses from Sky Arabia.
Dual Egyptian-Canadian national Fahmy renounced his Egyptian citizenship seeking deportation in December, his family members announced, however he is still standing retrial.
Fahmy previously told The Cairo Post he renounced his citizenship “against his will,” and is still seeking deportation “for medical treatment for a broken arm and hepatitis C” and that he hopes to re-apply for his Egyptian citizenship from Canada.
In his statements, he made it clear that links between the accused Al-Jazeera journalists and the network’s Arabic branch in Egypt were wrong, and that he himself rejects the coverage and policies of Al-Jazeera Mubasher.
In different interviews, Fahmy has lashed out at Al-Jazeera network over its failure to protect its journalists, and accused it of “epic negligence.