CAIRO: Five journalists from Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Wafd were fined LE 10,000 each Thursday for violating the press ban in place over the Suzanne Tamim murder trial.
The fines were imposed on Al-Masry Al-Youm editor Magdy El-Galad along with reporters Yousri El-Badri and Farouk El-Dessouki as well as Al-Wafd editor Abbas El-Tarabili and journalist Ibrahim Qaraa.
El-Galad’s lawyer Essam Sultan told Daily News Egypt that they intended to appeal the verdict, which he considered to be neither fair nor unnecessarily stringent.
“The judge compromised with his verdict, he didn’t put them in jail but he also had to condemn them, Sultan said, “he was cornered because the state-run papers also breached the press ban and were not held accountable for it.
Sultan was referring to a similar case which was brought against state-run newspapers but dropped by the public prosecutor last November without being referred to trial which he considered a double standard in the treatment meted to independent and semi-official journalists.
Construction tycoon Hisham Talaat Moustafa is on trial alongside Mohsen Al-Sukkari for the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim in Dubai last July. After the first session, presiding judge El-Mohammedi Qunsua instituted a press ban on the details of the court case.
Lawyers Ihab Naguib and Mohamed Shaaban had submitted the complaint to the North Cairo Prosecutor General’s office accusing the three government newspapers Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhuriya, of violating the ban imposed by Qunsua, who had decided that no details of events in court could be published, only court decisions.
The case against the independent journalists concerned the publishing of the testimony of one of the witnesses in the case, but the reporters denied the charges, saying that they published the witness testimony from the prosecution s reports and additionally from accounts by two lawyers representing Tamim s father, Abdel-Sattar.
We printed the testimony of the witness from his questioning by the Prosecutor General, not from the details of what happened inside the court room, El-Badri had previously told Daily News Egypt.
He had also said that he and his colleagues were not legally notified of the trial, and had known about it from a statement released by the Prosecutor General’s office which ran in the state-owned press.