The trail of employees of foreign funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) resumed on Saturday to hear the general prosecution’s case after being postponed several times.
The case involves 43 Egyptian, American, German and Arab employees from five NGOs. The defendants are facing accusations of working for unregistered organisations (without legal permission) and accordingly receiving foreign funds illegally.
Marwa Farid, an activist who attended the hearing, stated that “the prosecution depended in their pleading on Article 98 of the Penal Code with its provisions on establishing organisations, institutions and associations.”
According to Farid, the prosecution accused the NGOs employees of using democracy and good governance as a disguise for training political parties and disrupting stability.
The prosecution cited the testimonies of prosecution witnesses such as Fayza Aboul Naga, the former minister of international cooperation.
Farid stated, “one of the civil plaintiffs demanded the court impose the harshest punishment on the defendants because they followed their desires and took money from the US. He accused them of treason, but did not provide evidence for these accusations.”
Inside the court and for the first time the judge allowed cameras into the court. Farid said, “usually they allow journalists only, but today cameras were inside the court which was unprecedented.”
Farid described the protests outside the court. She said, “many of Omar Abdul Rahman’s [the former leader of El Gam’a El Islamiya who is currently serving a life sentence in the US due to his involvement in terrorist attacks] supporters protested outside the court using megaphones. They demanded the release of Abdul Rahman in exchange for the American defendants.”
Negad El Borie, a defence lawyer, demanded that the case should be postponed in order for the court to hear the defence’s case, according to Al Ahram.
The trial was adjourned to 2 December when the court will hear the defence.
While civil society waits for a final verdict in the case, NGOs in Egypt, local and foreign, continue operating in an uncertain atmosphere.