CAIRO: There were scenes of jubilation in the New Cairo Criminal Court today following the release on bail of seven of eight Sudanese men standing trial on charges related to the death of Malea Fealjour Bekam and injury of Nasser Bil Leel.
Bekam was fatally stabbed and Bil Leel seriously injured when a street fight between Sudanese youths erupted outside the American University in Cairo (AUC) on June 15, 2007 as the university celebrated World Refugee Day.
The eight youths have been held in prison since that time.
Serious concerns have been voiced about both the investigation into the murder, and the absence of a police presence from the scene of the crime on the day it took place, despite the fact that the organizers of the World Refugee Day had specifically requested an increased police presence because of threats of violence between Sudanese gangs.
Two eyewitnesses testified in closed session today.Ali El-Habet and Mohamed Bassiouny – lawyers for the second and eighth defendants – emerged from the judges’ chambers visibly angry.
They told the defendants’ families that Essam Mosharraf, the Sudanese lawyer for the first defendant Alam Eddin Barshim, had unexpectedly requested a postponement of proceedings.
“We had agreed in the morning that I would decide tactics, El-Habet told Daily News Egypt. “Mosharraf suddenly told judges that he wanted to hear the testimony of the police, which meant delaying the verdict once again. If he hadn’t done that I think the boys would have been found innocent today, he explained.
El-Habet nonetheless remains optimistic that the second and eighth defendants will be cleared in the next hearing, scheduled for May 4.
While Barshim, who faces charges of murder, remains in prison, the other seven defendants were freed on LE 1000 bail each.