TANTA: The trial of 49 people accused of committing offences during clashes with police on April 6 and 7 resumed Saturday in the Tanta Emergency State Security Court.
During Saturday’s session the defense entered into evidence a video camera and a CD.
The video camera’s digital memory card and the CD contain video images of the events of April 6 taken by Mahalla residents and photographs taken by American journalist James Buck who was detained while interviewing relatives of the hundreds of people detained on April 6 and 7.
Three defense witnesses also gave evidence on Saturday that refutes the defendants’ involvement in the alleged crimes they are tried for.
Ashraf Mohamed Eissa showed the judge an old injury to his right arm which has affected motor functions of his hand.
During a previous court session, Eissa explained to Daily News Egypt from inside the dock that his disability prevents him from fully opening his hand, making it impossible for him to have carried the printer and computers he is alleged to have stolen.
Essam Mohamed Ibrahim told the court that a health condition prevents him from standing for long periods of time, ruling out the possibility of him having committed the acts of criminal damage, theft, assault of police officers and obstruction of public transport of which he is accused.
In addition, Ibrahim listed for the court the various places he has lived since he was born, which the defense said proves, incontestably, that state security investigations have fabricated charges against him.
Ibrahim’s father was employed in the Ghazl El-Mahalla spinning factory in Mahalla, and the family moved to accommodation provided by the Ghazl El-Mahalla company in Kafr Hegazy, Mahalla, when he was 13 years old.
When he was 16, the family moved again to a different apartment also owned by the factory.
The Kafr Hegazy apartment has been occupied by a different family for eight years, but Ibrahim’s personal identity card has not been updated and lists his place of abode as the Kafr Hegazy apartment.
After getting married, he moved to a new apartment in Mahalla, where he was living at the time of the events.
A letter was presented to the court, sent by the Ghazl El-Mahalla company to the Tanta public prosecution office showing that the Kafr Hegazy apartment has had a different occupant since April 2001.
According to the defense, the authors of the police report accuse Ibrahim of hiding stolen goods in the address listed in on his personal ID card but failed to establish that he actually lives at this address.
“The letter sent by the Ghazl El-Mahalla company proves that the defendant has nothing to do with the Kafr Hegazy apartment mentioned in the state security investigations report, lawyer Ahmed Hegazy told the court.
“This report alleges that the defendant was living in the Kafr Hegazy apartment [in April 2008] and that he hid stolen goods in it.
“The state security investigations report is a fabrication, and the defense calls for the two officers who carried out the investigations to be questioned on charges of fraud.
The final defendant to appear before the court, Mahmoud Shawqy, also showed the court an arm injury which the defense say militates against the possibility of Shawqy having committed the crimes of which he is accused.
The group of 48 men and one woman were arrested in the weeks following protests which broke out in the Delta town of Mahalla over hiked food prices on April 6.
The demonstrations followed the collapse on the same day of a strike by 27,000 workers in a spinning factory in the town caused in part by security body intimidation.
Rights groups have condemned the excessive force – including live ammunition – which police bodies used against what eyewitnesses say was a peaceful demonstration.
None of the defendants were arrested while in the act of committing the crimes imputed against them, and defense lawyers allege that they are the victims of charges concocted by the government to give credence to its presentation of the April events as a riot, rather than a popular uprising.
“The photographs and video footage [contained on the CD and video camera] demonstrate that [the events of April 6 and 7] were akin to a popular uprising, and that none of the 49 defendants were involved in these events, defense lawyer Hamdy El-Assiouty told Daily News Egypt.
“The contradictions in the case establish that the defendants have been accused of fabricated charges, El-Assiouty continued.
“However, we are up against a state security court which does not allow appeal of its verdicts by a higher judicial body. If a verdict is handed down we can only lodge a petition to the prime minister.
The trial resumes Tuesday, when the video footage and photographs will be shown to the court.