CAIRO: Some of a group of 25 men accused of carrying out acts of terrorism in what is known as the Zeitoun case, told the Abbaseyya State Security Court during Saturday’s court session that they had been tortured.
Videos published online by Egyptian daily El-Youm El-Sabaa show one of the defendants, Mohamed Khamis, lifting his top up in order to show his back to media cameras while in the defendants’ cage. Defence lawyer Haitham Mohamedain told Daily News Egypt that the injuries – whip marks – were clearly visible and corroborated Khamis’ claims.
“Khamis was told by the judge to approach the bench and requested to again show his injuries, which Khamis says were inflicted last September, when he was released from state security investigations custody and sent to prison while awaiting trial, Mohamedain explained.
“Khamis says that once he was out of state security investigations custody he felt able to retract the confession he had made earlier on while being tortured. The whipping was in response to this.
Khamis and the other 24 men from Cairo and the Delta region are accused of offences linked to their alleged membership of a terrorist cell called The Brigade of Loyalty and Exoneration.
The prosecution alleges that the group was responsible for an armed robbery of the Cleopatra jewellery store in June 2009 that resulted in the death of three men.
According to a statement issued by the Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence, at least eight other defendants also alleged that they had been tortured. The judge ordered that they be sent for forensic examination.
The Nadim Center statement says that Khamis told the judge that mistreatment, in the form of beatings, is continuing in the prison, showing the judge a broken middle finger on his right hand which he said is the result of this mistreatment.
“Khamis also complained that the public attorney Taher El-Kholy reformulated the answers given by Khamis and at times reversed his answers completely. For example, when asked whether he knew the name of the jewellery shop whose owner was killed Khamis replied, ‘no’, while El-Kholy dictated ‘Cleopatra’ , the statement reads.
In addition, Khamis and another defendant, Ahmed El-Sharawy, will be examined by a committee of three medical experts after they alleged that they suffered epileptic fits during their detention.
“The medical report [concerning the epileptic fits] was not included in the case files despite the fact that reference was made to it by the prosecution, the Nadim statement reads.
The case was adjourned until April 18, 2010 when prosecution witnesses will appear.
The court also accepted a request by the defence team that the Interior Ministry reveal where the defendants were held after they were arrested in June and July last year.
Some of the defendants disappeared after their arrest and were held in incommunicado detention; Khamis alleged in court on Saturday that the first time he appeared before the state security prosecution office he was not accompanied by a lawyer, an allegation rejected by the public prosecution office.