CAIRO: Police used violence to stop protestors demonstrating against the export of gas to Israel Monday outside the State Council building where the controversial case was being heard.
Thirty central security forces trucks surrounded the Council building whose steps were entirely occupied by thugs in plain clothing.
State security investigations and police officers prevented journalists and photographers from entering the building.
At around 12:40 pm around 25 protestors emerged from inside the State Council building carrying posters bearing the images of soldiers who died during Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel.
They were immediately set upon by police officers and men in plain clothing who manhandled them on the steps. Two people fell to the ground during these clashes, including Al-Ahaly journalist Seham Shehata who was suddenly seen on her back.
Doctors from the Nadeem Center for the Victims of Violence say that Shehata suffered bruising as a result of the fall.
At the same location around one hour before that, 17 members of the April 6 movement were arrested following clashes with the police during a demonstration to mark President Hosni Mubarak’s 81st birthday, according to Tarek Zaghloul, head of the civil work unit at the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR).
Mohamed Zaki Adeeb, Mohamed Ibrahim Fouad, Mohamed Adel Fahmy, Abdallah Yehia, Afaf Mohamed Mahmoud, Mohamed El Ashqar, Asmaa Nassar, Seif Abdallah, Karim Koghou, Ahmed Gamal, Amr Affifi, Mohamed Awwad, El Husseiny Abouzaid, Mahmoud Atef, Saeed El Saeedy, Mohamed Sami and Mamhoud Sami were all taken to the Dokki Police Station following their arrest, according to Rawda Ahmed, lawyer at the legal support and freedom of expression unit at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information.
“The police station chief told us that they will be taken to State Security investigations but we still don’t know whether they will be interrogated first at the prosecution office, Ahmed told Daily News Egypt.
A journalist’s camera and mobile phone were also confiscated by the police as they were covering the demonstration. They were returned two hours later at the Dokki police station.
The April 6 Movement had promoted the thwarted demonstration on Facebook and on email, criticizing Mubarak’s 28-year rule.
Member of the popular campaign to prohibit Egyptian gas exports Abdallah Helmy told Daily News Egypt that security forces prevented the protest from taking place, and arrested anyone who refused to leave the area.
He said, “Security was unbelievable, a lot of people were arrested, I was not allowed to cross the road and whoever did cross the road to the State Council was arrested. They also took the posters I had with me.
“Security officers told me to leave, and said they would not allow anything to happen today. This had to do with Mubarak’s birthday, Helmy added.
Inside the courtroom the case was adjourned until another panel of judges had completed examining a motion the campaign had filed in April which called for the removal of some of the presiding judges due to their ties with the government.
“This is good for us, Helmy said, “because the motion being considered might mean the judges could be changed. -Additional reporting by Abdel Rahman Hussein.