CAIRO: It is “imperitive” that photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zaid, known by Shawkan, be released per a law that allows a maximum pre-trial detention of two years, which he has already served, said his Lawyer Karim Abdel Rady.
“As long as there is no court ruling against the person who has completed the maximum remand stipulated in the law, he should be released,” Rady told The Cairo Post Monday.
A session set on Monday to consider Shawkan’s detention was cancelled, and his case was referred Sunday to criminal trial for the first time in the past two years.
A legal memorandum demanding Shawkan’s release in application to the law will be submitted to court for consideration, his lawyer said.
“Even if he is going to be tried, he should be tried from outside jail. According to the law, the release of a detainee can be at any phase of a legal process as long as no verdict was issued against him,” continued Rady.
Shawkan was arrested Aug. 14, 2013, during his coverage of the police dispersal of Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in. Although he was arrested while doing his job, the charges drawn against him had nothing to do with journalism; the list include: murder, attempted murder, assaulting security forces and weapon possession.
His incarceration has been widely condemned as “unlawful” and his charges as “baseless.”
Rady said that he is not worried about Shawkan’s legal stance “because there is no evidence against him,” but what concerns him is “that the court might keep renewing his temporary detention in violation to the law.”
“Being held in prison for two years, this means that Shawkan has already served a sentence before being tried,” Rady said.
At least 35 journalists are currently detained, mostly over charges related to their work, said Khaled el-Balshy, a member of press syndicate, in contradiction to official announcement that no journalists are jailed over publishing crimes.