CAIRO: Men accused of plotting attacks in Egypt as members of a Hezbollah cell claimed they were tortured by police in custody ahead of their trial, which began in a Cairo court on Sunday.
The 22 alleged members of the cell, dressed in white as they stood in a cage behind the dock, denied the charges of conspiracy to murder, spying for a foreign organization with intent of conducting terrorist attacks and weapons possession.
As some of the defendants made the torture allegations, one man shouted to the judge: If you don’t believe us, just look at our bodies.
A total of 26 suspects are charged with spying for a foreign group, planning attacks against tourists and shipping in the Suez Canal and sending operatives to Gaza to help militant groups there.
Four of the accused are on the run and are being tried in absentia, including alleged Lebanese mastermind Mohammed Qublan.
Lawyers say the defendants pleaded not guilty in Sunday s hearing.
During the hearing one man shouted We are at your command Nasrallah, in an apparent reference to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah who admitted in April that one of the defendants, Lebanese Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed Mansur known as Sami Shihab, was a Hezbollah agent tasked with smuggling weapons to militants in the Gaza Strip.
Authorities began arresting members of what has become known as the Hezbollah cell in 2008, accusing them of plotting attacks against Israeli tourists and on ships in the Suez Canal.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah admitted sending an agent to supervise weapon shipments to Hamas in Gaza, but he has denied seeking to harm Egypt s security.
The next hearing is scheduled for October 24. -Agencies