Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s trial adjourned for sentencing without lawyers’ arguments
CAIRO: The trial session of prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah was adjourned on Monday as his lawyers were denied the right to present their arguments, according a defence team member.
After spending six hours conferring behind closed doors, the judge adjourned Abdel-Fattah's trial until 20 December, lawyer Nabeh El-Genabi wrote on his Facebook page.
There will be no trial proceedings on that day, El-Genabi said - only Abdel-Fattah's sentencing.
Abdel-Fattah, his former lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer, and activist Mohamed Ibrahim, who goes by the moniker Oxygen, have been accused of spreading false news, among other related charges.
The three defendants are standing trial before the emergency state security court, whose verdict cannot be appealed.
The defence lawyers’ request to acquire a photocopy of the case file had been frequently denied by the judge, who only allowed them review it at the courthouse, said Abdel-Fattah’s sister, Mona Seif.
“The judge also refused to allow Abdel-Fattah’s lawyers to visit him in prison to discuss the case,” Seif wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday.
Also on social media, El-Genadi lashed out at the court for depriving them of a copy of the case file.
“Is it logical that the prosecutor, who is our opponent in the case, possesses a copy of the case file and we, the weakest party [here], don’t have it, [even though], it’s our right to have it?” El-Genadi asked.
Both Abdel-Fattah and Baqer have been held in pre-trial detention for more than 24 months - a breach of Egypt's code of criminal procedure.
Legally, a person can be detained for up to a maximum of two years, pending trial. Their detention orders must be renewed every 45 days throughout this period.
Abdel-Fattah, held at the notorious, maximum-security Tora Prison, has at times been held in solitary confinement. He has also been denied access to books or the jail yard to exercise.
Abdel-Fattah and Baqer were imprisoned in 2019 after rare, small-scale protests that year against the government of current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
They were both added to Cairo's "terror" list late last year, a move that bans them from travel and freezes their assets.
Abdel-Fattah was a prominent figure in Egypt's 2011 uprising against autocratic president Hosni Mubarak and had already spent time in jail before his 2019 arrest.
Oxygen was arrested in September 2019 for posting protest-related videos on his blog, according to Amnesty International.
The Egyptian regime has been accused by rights groups of overseeing the country's worst crackdown on human rights in decades.
Sisi, a former army chief, took power in 2014 and has launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent.
Egypt holds about 60,000 political prisoners, rights groups estimate.