CAIRO: The Supreme State Security Emergency Court has set April 28 as the date when the final verdict on the Hezbollah cell case will be issued, marking the fate of 26 people accused of operating a terrorist cell in Egypt under orders from the Lebanese Shia group.
“We are hoping for the innocence of the defendants of course, Defense lawyer Essam Sultan told Daily News Egypt, “but it is impossible to predict what the verdict will be.
The defendants – four of whom are being tried in absentia – are on trial for accusations leveled by the State Security Prosecution Office including colluding with a foreign organization to carry out terrorist activities within its borders
Additional accusations include the training of Palestinians within Egypt to carry out operations in the Gaza Strip. The defendants’ lawyers admitted that the cell was aiming to aid Hamas in Gaza, but denied that there were any plans to carry out attacks within Egypt.
The cell was allegedly operating under the command of a Lebanese man, Sami Shihab, and also included two Palestinians. There have been allegations that the defendants had been tortured under State Security custody during the initial investigation process.
State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi had accused the two Lebanese members, Hezbollah commander Muhammed Qublan (not in custody) and Shihab of entering Egypt with forged passports in order to form an organization to smuggle 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 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 leading into the Gaza Strip 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 respectively.