Egypt court to rule on Nour release bid

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CAIRO: An Egyptian court said on Tuesday it will decide in two weeks whether to release jailed opposition leader Ayman Nour on medical grounds, an announcement that raised hope among his supporters.

Mohammed Al-Husseini, judge of Cairo s administrative tribunal, said he would give his verdict on June 26, with or without a report from a committee of medical experts set up by the justice ministry.

The defense will be able to submit its own medical report, he said.

The announcement was welcomed by supporters of 43-year-old Nour, who has been behind bars for 18 months.

This is a victory and gives hope for the release of Ayman Nour, said his lawyer, Amir Salem.

It s a good sign, agreed the activist s wife, Gamila Ismail, praising the judge, but remaining cautious. Even if the verdict is positive, we re not sure of its implementation. Nour, an insulin-dependent diabetic who stood against President Hosni Mubarak in an election in 2005, is serving a five-year jail term for forging affidavits needed to set up his Ghad party.

US ally Egypt earlier this month reacted angrily to a call by President George W. Bush to free Nour. Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said it amounted to unacceptable interference in Egyptian affairs.

A court on May 31 rejected his last bid to be released on health grounds, with a source close to the case saying the court had no faith in the private medical assessment presented by Nour.

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