Trial of Photojournalist Shawkan adjourned to April 23
Mahmoud Abou Zaid, courtesy of the Freedom for Shawkan Facebook page

CAIRO: A Cairo court has adjourned the trial of photojournalist Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, known as Shawkan, to  April 23.

Saturday is considered the first time Shawkan stands trial after around 1000 days of detention due to several delays related to the size of the court dock that could not accommodate more than 700 defendants standing along with Shawkan in the case.

Judge Hassan Farid who ruled in Al-Jazeera journalists’ retrial, is presiding in Shawkan’s case.

The case is called the “Rabaa sit-in dispersal,” referring to the August 2013 dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations, during which Shawkan was arrested while covering the events.

Shawkan questioned the reason for his prolonged “unfair” detention at the time he was answering a call of the government itself to cover the dispersal, according to a letter he sent Amnesty earlier this month from prison.

In the letter, he described “the inhumane treatment of prisoners” during inspection rounds by prison informants to the cells, during which inmates’ belongings are damaged.
“Can you imagine what it would be like to have 10 people searching a 2×1.8m cell!!?” he said, adding that their cell was searched for 26 times by the Prison Authority within the last 900 days. One of these times has ended up with Shawkan in a solitary confinement for four days last month, over claims a “mobile phone” was found in the cell.

“I want any sane person to answer me: What is going on? Why am I being unfairly placed in solitary confinement? Has it not been enough to have spent almost 1,000 days in detention unfairly and on false grounds? A thousand and one nights?”

Shawkan, who is suffering complications of Hepatitis C infection, is facing what rights groups condemned as “trumped-up” charges of affiliations with a banned group and murder among others, which could lead him to life imprisonment sentence.

In its 2015 report, the Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Egypt the second worst jailer of journalists worldwide, saying that Egypt’s imprisonment of journalist is “at an all-time high.”

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