The trial of two Egyptians charged with drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia was adjourned to 10 October to allow the prosecutor to gather more evidence, after convening briefly on Wednesday
Egyptian lawyer Ahmed Al-Gizawy and fellow national Islam Bakr, who worked as an accountant in Saudi Arabia according to state-owned Al-Ahram, maintained their innocence at Wednesday’s hearing at the General Court in Jeddah.
The hearing lasted an hour and 15 minutes, after which time the court rejected bail for the two men.
Although Al-Gizawy had previously claimed that he had been tortured during his interrogation and detention, the presiding judge determined that the evidence did not support his allegations.
Al-Gizawy was arrested in April at King Abdulaziz International Airport on his way to perform Umrah (minor pilgrimage) allegedly in possession of roughly 21,000 of Xanax pills which are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Two customs agents attended Wednesday’s hearing and testified that they found the tablets hidden among a group of Qurans in his luggage.
The arrest of Al-Gizawy sparked outrage in Egypt, with protesters forcing the Saudi Arabian embassy to close briefly and Ambassador Ahmed Qattan temporarily leaving the country.
Al-Gizawy’s family disclosed a handwritten letter he wrote addressing President Mohamed Morsy pleading him to intervene in his case and in those of others unjustly detained in Saudi Arabia. In the letter he mentioned Najla Yehya Wafaa, an Egyptian woman arrested in 2011 following a business dispute with a Saudi Arabian princess. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment and 500 lashes , 300 of which she had received by last month.
Shahenda Fathy, Al-Gizawy’s wife, has openly criticised the Foreign Ministry and Morsy’s administration for their silence on the case.
A human rights lawyer, Al-Gizawy had previously worked to improve conditions for Egyptian workers living in Saudi Arabia, a group that often complains of mistreatment. Human rights groups have pointed at his activist track record as political motivation for the Saudi Arabian government to detain him.
Little is known about Bakr’s arrest and his family has declined to talk to the media.