CAIRO: The defense team for the 26 accused of forming a terrorist cell affiliated to Hezbollah has announced that it will formulate a defense strategy after perusing the case files, which they have not been allowed to see until now.
The trial of what’s known as the ‘Hezbollah cell’ case began last Sunday at the State Security Court situated in the Fifth Settlement district on the outskirts of Cairo.
The charges leveled against the 26 defendants, four of whom are not in custody, were “conspiracy to murder, spying for a foreign organization with intent of conducting terrorist attacks and weapons possession.
Member of the defense team Essam Sultan told Daily News Egypt, “It was just a procedural hearing, all we heard was that there was torture [of the defendants] which affected us greatly.
“We are yet to see the case files, he added, “so we requested a continuance until we could access the case files and formulate a defense strategy. Usually defense lawyers access the files after a case is referred to court.
State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi accused the two Lebanese members, Muhammed Qublan and Sami Shihab of entering Egypt with falsified passports in order to form an organization that smuggled weapons into Israel as well as target Israeli ships passing through the Suez Canal.
He cited that they rented houses near the canal to monitor the movement of ships. Badawi claimed the leader was Hezbollah commander Muhammed Qublan, who is not in custody.
Badawi accused the Egyptian defendants of conspiring with a foreign entity to commit terrorist acts on Egyptian soil, including against tourists and tourism sites.
They are also accused of digging an underground tunnel in the town of Rafah on the border which led into the Gaza strip and was used to smuggle people and goods.
The ages of the 26 defendants range between 17 and 46, the youngest two being the Palestinian defendants, who are aged 17 and 19.
The trial judge Abdel-Salam Gomaa asked each defendant in turn how he pleaded to the accusations leveled. All pleaded not guilty, with some describing the charges as “lies while others said, “we were tortured while in the custody of State Security. Gomaa has set the next hearing in the case for Oct. 24 in order to give the defense team time to prepare.
“The investigations that were carried out were secret investigations, and they have ways to prevent us from accessing the case files, Sultan said, “so we wait until it goes to court.