CAIRO: The appeal hearing in the case against four newspaper editors sentenced in 2007 to one year’s imprisonment was adjourned to June 7 on Saturday.
The Agouza Misdemeanours Court accepted the defense’s request that a copy of the report from the Central Auditing Agency (CAA) be made available to the defense.
It had been sent to the court in a sealed envelope and had not been made available to defence lawyers.
Lawyer Hafez Abu Saeda explains: “The CAA reports monitor cases of misappropriation of funds within certain state bodies. We will use this report to support our case that the facts mentioned in the articles published by the editors are not ‘false news’.
The case against editors Adel Hamouda, Ibrahim Eissa, Wael El-Ebrashy and Abdel Halim Qandil was brought last year by lawyer Ibrahim Rabie Abdel Rassoul, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party.
In September 2007 the editors were found guilty of publishing articles which infringed Article 188 of the Penal Code.
Article 188 criminalizes ‘publishing false information of a nature to disturb public order or security’ and were sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of LE 20,000.
This is Al-Dostour editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa’s second conviction under Article 188 in three months.
At the end of March he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for publishing articles concerning the health of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The court verdict was widely criticized by rights groups as an attack on press freedom.
Eissa will appeal his conviction later this month.
This case is one of several cases brought against journalists by private individuals recently.
Critics allege that these cases seek to silence dissent and settle political scores rather than being founded on a genuine legal claim.
Speaking after the hearing, which coincided with World Press Freedom Day, defense lawyer Hafez Abu Seada criticized the case.
“This case, heard on World Press Freedom Day, is symbolic of all journalists in Egypt, Abu Seada said.
“It is an extremely serious attack on freedom of expression, and threatens press freedom.
“No democracy can accept that journalists be prosecuted or imprisoned for expressing their opinion or criticizing political policy, he continued.