CAIRO: A Cairo Court adjourned Thursday the retrial of two Al-Jazeera journalists in the case known in the media as the “Mariott Cell” to June 29.
In the same case, three journalists along with students are facing charges of aiding a banned group, broadcasting false news to disrupt national security and operating without proper licenses.
Thursday hearing was scheduled to listen to the closing defense of the students; lawyers of students denied connection between their clients and the banned-Muslim Brotherhood group, and that “[students] have nothing to do with the journos of Al-Jazeera,” reported Journalist Ruth Michaelson from inside the courtroom.
The journalists have repeatedly requested to be separated from students in the case.
“MB students defense begins tomorrow will judge separate us journalists from them despite their confessions of using AJ cameras/sold footage,” Canadian Journalist Mohamed Fahmy tweeted Wednesday.
Last hearing, the court ordered arrest of student Sohaib Saad for not appearing at the hearing; Saad is claimed to be abducted and has been reported missing by his family since June 1. Saad’s lawyer told Judge Thursday that he is in Istiqbal wing (translates to: reception) of Torah Prison, reported Journalist Jared Maslin from the court.
In their arguments, lawyers argued “void” arrest and inspection decision by prosecution, as well as “lack of evidence” for any of the charges drawn against their clients.
During his own defense, Fahmy denied responsibility for invalid licenses of his former employer Al-Jazeera network. He previously said that the licenses charge could sentence them up to three years in prison.
Fahmy has ceded his Egyptian citizenship in prison, before a court released them on bail, in order to make use of the deportation decree; however, he is still standing trial.
A third Al-Jazeera journalist, Australian Peter Greste, was deported in February per a 2014 decree that allows non-Egyptians’ extradition to be tried or serve a sentence in their home country.
Greste said on Twitter over his expectations for Thursday hearing: “I was refused legal presentation at my last trial and will be again this Thursday.”
The three were sentenced in June 2014 to seven-ten years in prison; an appeal court abolished the sentence in January “due to lack of evidence” and ordered a retrial.