CAIRO: State Security Public Prosecutor Hisham Badawy decided Thursday to extend the detention of the alleged ringleader of the Zeitoun terror cell, Mohamed Fahim Hussain, for 15 days for pending further investigations after he is let go by the Ministry of Interior.
The detention is to take effect after the Ministry of Interior releases him, because he is currently detained under an arrest warrant issued by the ministry. Badawy ruled that Hussain would be detained for the additional 15 days after the end of his current incarceration.
Hussain is being accused of leading a terrorist cell with an extremist ideology and masterminding the attack which led to the murder of four Coptic jewelers in the area of Zeitoun in May 2008.
State Security Prosecution alleged that Hussain is not a paraplegic as his defense team asserted, nor has he suffered any injuries during his incarceration. Hussain’s lawyers have given out medical reports attesting to the medical conditions of two of the detainees, including Hussain.
The defense team asserts that the arrests and subsequent detainment were unconstitutional under the emergency law, which is still in effect. This is because the emergency law does not have a clause that circumvents Articles 41, 44 and 45 of the Egyptian constitution, which govern methods of arrest.
The proposed anti-terror law presented in the constitutional amendments of 2007 would legalize this method of arrest, as it contains a clause which does not bind it to the articles. But as it has not yet been implemented, the arrests carried out were deemed illegal.
Ahmed Seif El-Islam, head of the Hesham Mubarak Law Center, had said previously, “The case is more dangerous than 26 defendants who will be denied a fair trial; it highlights how Egyptians will be herded into a legal territory where security branches have an absolute power protected by constitutional disfigurement.
Despite numerous attempts to locate the detainees, the defense team, which comprises 22 lawyers, has not been able meet with their clients or be present during the prosecution’s investigations, except in one instance by chance.
Numerous requests submitted to the Public Prosecutor, State Council, Minister of Interior and the President to locate the whereabouts of the detainees have been ignored.
Lawyer Mohamed Shabana had previously said, “I accuse the [State Security] officers who made the arrests of kidnapping, detaining the defendants in an unknown location and torture of the defendants . when I submit a request to the Public Prosecutor I expect him to investigate, I want to know where the detainees are.
“For every question I asked the State Security Prosecution about their whereabouts or the charges leveled against them, I was told ‘It is not your right to know’, he added.
State Security had announced July 9 that 25 Egyptians and one Palestinian had formed a terrorist cell which was responsible for the murder of the Coptic jewelers and was planning other attacks, including an attempt on the life of Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, as well as Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu have congratulated Egypt for the efforts which led to the capture of the cell.