CAIRO: The trial of eight Sudanese youths on charges related to the killing of Malea Fealjour Bekam was adjourned yesterday amid fears that four of the defendants might have been deported to Sudan.
The group, popularly known as the AUC 8, have been detained since June 15, 2007, when Bekam was fatally stabbed and Nasser Bil Leel seriously injured during a street fight between Sudanese youths outside the American University in Cairo (AUC) as the university celebrated World Refugee Day.
Serious concerns have been voiced about both the investigation into the murder and the absence of police from the scene of the crime on the day it took place.
The New Cairo Criminal Court ordered the release of seven of the eight on LE 1,000 bail each on March 5.
The eighth defendant Alam Eddin Barshim, who has been charged with murder, was not released on bail.
Friends and family paid the LE 7,000 bail money on the same day and were under the impression that the seven would be released within 48 hours.
This, however, did not happen, and the seven were taken to Abdeen police station and illegally held there in defiance of the court order for their release.
Rights groups frequently criticize Egyptian security bodies’ use of administrative detention to hold individuals in custody after their release has been ordered by courts.
Seven members of the group were then transferred to Alexandria’s Borg El-Arab prison.
However, Alam Eldin Barshim, is being held in a prison in Cairo.
Lawyer Ali El-Habet, who represents two of the defendants, had received a letter in March from Egyptian state security investigations officers informing him that the defendants would be deported to Sudan.
The non-appearance in court of four of the defendants (Kour Madok Deen Kodak, Geem Daniela Delwak, Nasser Bil Leel and Belekel Bil Leel) – all of whom are from South Sudan – has raised concerns that they may have been deported to Sudan, although this has been difficult to establish with any certainty.
“One of the four youths rang their family and said that they are in Juba, Sudan, and that they were deported ten days ago, El-Habet told Daily News Egypt.
“I have demanded that the court establish the whereabouts of my missing client, he continued.
However, Atef, the brother of one of the defendants, Essam Eddin Jubbara, gives a different account.
“We visited Essam on Saturday, April 26, a week or so before Sunday’s court hearing. He told us that the four had been put in a group with 52 other Sudanese nationals who were arrested while trying to enter Israel illegally and that the group were deported to Sudan.
The case was adjourned till June 3.