CAIRO: An Egyptian appeals court on Saturday extended the investigative detention by 15 days of a rights campaigner who had been advising the family of an Italian student found tortured to death in Cairo.
The decision followed a chaotic courtroom hearing that included physical scuffles and the eventual expulsion from the room of foreign diplomats, journalists and family members.
Ahmed Abdullah, the head of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, was arrested at his suburban home early on April 25 and stands accused of inciting revolt and terrorism. His detention came just hours before thousands of riot police stifled planned demonstrations in Cairo that were to be held in defiance of a protest ban to denounce President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s recent decision to surrender control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
Lawyers from Abdullah’s NGO had offered assistance to the lawyers of the family of the Italian doctoral student, Giulio Regeni, who was abducted in Cairo on Jan. 25. His body, bearing signs of severe torture, was found nine days later on the side of a suburban Cairo road. The city was on a police lockdown on Jan. 25 to prevent protests marking the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising that overthrew longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.