CAIRO: A lawyer representing the defendants in what is known as the Zeitoun cell case submitted a complaint to the State Security Public Prosecutor Hisham Badawi alleging that the detainees are being terrorized with snakes in their cells.
Lawyer Mohamed Shabana told Daily News Egypt Monday that the detainees of the Zeitoun cell case as well as the Hezbollah cell case – both of whom are being held in Tora prison – were finding snakes in their cells at night.
“I hold the Interior Ministry responsible for the safety of the defendants; prisons were not made to terrorize defendants who have not yet stood trial, he said.
Shabana met with Badawi last Saturday and filed an official complaint citing concerns regarding the safety of the detainees during their incarceration. According to Shabana, Badawi was also concerned with the allegations and requested a report from prison officials.
“State security officers in cooperation with Tora prison officials are allowing snakes in during the night and it seems that it happened to the Hezbollah detainees as well because they are in the same prison, Shabana alleged.
The allegation surfaced during the questioning of the detainees, which took place in Shabana’s presence. When asked if they had any further statements to make, the detainees mentioned the snakes, and said it was happening with the Hezbollah defendants as well.
Essam Sultan, who is representing the main defendant in the Hezbollah case Mohamed Mansour, told Daily News Egypt that he had not heard anything about this matter, but he did not necessarily dismiss it.
“I haven’t heard about this personally but it might be true because we have no access to the defendants, he said, “we do know there were incidences of torture earlier in their incarceration.
Torture allegations have surfaced in both these cases. Another lawyer from the Zeitoun defense team Sayed Fathi previously told Daily News Egypt, “They have been tortured, they told us as much when we met them and some cried when recounting the details.
One defendant had previously told the lawyers he had been subjected to electric shocks to his ears, nipples, penis and testicles while tied naked and splayed to a bed.
State Security had announced last July that 25 Egyptians and one Palestinian had formed a terrorist cell which was responsible for the murder of four Coptic jewelers in the district of Zeitoun in May 2008 and was planning other attacks, including bombing the Suez Canal.
There are also 26 defendants in the Hezbollah cell case, which is currently in court. They stand accused of forming a terrorist cell affiliated to Hezbollah which was supplying arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and allegedly planning attacks on Egyptian soil.
The trial resumes next Saturday.