Update: Trial of Photojournalist Shawkan adjourned to June 28
Photojournalist Shawkan addresses court May 21, telling Judge Hassan Farid that he was arrested while doing his job in covering the 2013 police dispersal of the pro-Brotherhood Rabaa sit-in. Photo by Hassan Mohamed/Youm7.
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CAIRO: A Cairo court on Tuesday adjourned the trial of Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, to June 28 in the “Rabaa dispersal” case. The court also ordered that the hall have data show screens to view video evidence.

Shawkan, a freelance photojournalist, has exceeded 1,000 days in prison since he was arrested in August 2013, while he was covering the police dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in.

“Judge has been clarified in each session that Shawkan has nothing to do with the case he is being tried in,” Karim Abdel Rady, a member of Shawkan’s defense team, told The Cairo Post Tuesday outside the court.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, attending his trial session on May 31. Photo by Khaled Kamel/Youm7.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, attending his trial session on May 31. Photo by Khaled Kamel/Youm7.

 

Abdel Rady noted that when Shawkan addressed the court in the last session “the judge seemed caring and asked him about his number [order] in the case.”

In addition, Abdel Rady said that the defense team has submitted requests to release Shawkan on the grounds of his deteriorating health, which are supported by medical reports.

Although he expects a long time for justice to be served, as the case includes 739 defendants being tried collectively, Abdel Rady said he “strongly believes” there is nothing against his client, and that he will either be released on bail or be acquitted at the end.

On Tuesday, uproar prevailed in the court hall as defendants started to bang on the sound-proof dock, claiming police forces assaulted a defendant during the session.

Some lawyers called for a withdrawal from court after Judge Hassan Farid denied “seeing” any assault before his eyes. The lawyers later retracted their withdrawal from court. Farid previously presided over the retrial of Al-Jazeera journalists, in which Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were sentenced to three years in prison over spreading false news and terror-related charges.

The session was set Tuesday to view physical evidence in the case, where the judge started to open exhibits and question defendants over them.

Deputy Chairman of Wasat Party, Essam Sultan, was asked about sums of money, which he denied it belonged to him, saying that the money seized with him was much more.

Deputy Chairman of Wasat Party, Essam Sultan addressing court in Rabaa Dispersal case during May 31 session. Photo by Khaled Kamel/Youm7.

Deputy Chairman of Wasat Party, Essam Sultan addressing court in Rabaa Dispersal case during May 31 session. Photo by Khaled Kamel/Youm7.

 

Defendant Amr Zaki was allowed to hug his wife and son, as he complained about the lack of family visits. His wife told The Cairo Post during the session Tuesday that each visit lasts around 10 minutes and takes place through a glass cabin.

 

Some defendants were seen carrying a banner that read “we are the ten who do not have supporters” referring to 10 defendants, whom Laywer Abdel Rady said “were randomly arrested” in the 2013 events.

Defendants in the case known as Rabaa dispersal carry a banner during May 31 session, photo by Khaled Kamel/Youm7.

Defendants in the case known as Rabaa dispersal carry a banner during May 31 session, photo by Khaled Kamel/Youm7.

 

On Tuesday the court viewed physical evidence that included weapons, ammunition, CDs, mobile phones, iPads and personal identification cards and money.

Of the total 739 defendants, around 367 are present in court, including leading members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group: Mohamed Badie, Mohamed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian.

Some of the accusations against the defendants are: launching arson attacks on public utilities, resisting authorities, possessing unlicensed weapons, blocking roads, premeditated murder and organizing an armed gathering in Rabaa Square.

Many rights groups harshly condemned photojournalist Shawkan’s prolonged detention over “sham” charges that are not related to his job.

Shawkan was remanded for over two years, exceeding the maximum limit stipulated by law for pretrial detention. His trial began in February 2016.

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