Hezbollah hails Egypt trial verdict as 'badge of honour'

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah hailed as a "badge of honor" an Egyptian court’s conviction of 26 men for plotting attacks in the Suez Canal and Sinai resorts on behalf of his Lebanese militant group.

"The verdicts are a badge of honor for these noble brothers of the resistance," Nasrallah said in an interview to be broadcast on Thursday by Kuwaiti television channel Al-Rai.

"It is a source of pride to us for all Arab and Islamic peoples to know that we are detained and jailed for… standing by our brothers in Palestine and Gaza," Nasrallah said, according to a transcript of the interview released by his office.

A Cairo court on Wednesday handed down jail sentences against 26 defendants it convicted of working for a Hezbollah cell and plotting attacks against ships in the Suez Canal and on tourist sites, among other charges.

The defendants, most of whom were detained between late 2008 and January 2009, said in a hand-written letter obtained by AFP that they never planned attacks in Egypt.

They said they had tried to help the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza during Israel’s devastating December 2008-January 2009 offensive against the Palestinian territory.

Nasrallah admitted after the arrests were publicized that he sent a senior commander, Mohammed Yusef Mansur, alias Sami Shihab, to Egypt to support Palestinian militants in Gaza.

But judge Adel Abdul Salam Gomaa rejected the defense case, sending the 22 defendants who were in the dock to jail.

Four of the defendants remain at large, including the alleged Lebanese head of the cell, Mohammed Qabalan. Life sentences were handed down against three of them.

Iranian-backed Nasrallah, whose ties with Egypt are tense, vowed to seek a "diplomatic and political way out" of Wednesday’s jailings, echoing similar comments made a day earlier by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

"From day one, we have said — and I personally have said — that these men are honorable brothers, fighters of the resistance, and not outlaws, terrorists and criminals, as the court verdict says," Nasrallah said.

"We will continue to use all political and diplomatic means to deal with this issue, give our brothers what is fair and ensure they do not remain in prison," he added.

The controversial trial has reignited a war of words between Egypt, Hezbollah and Iran.

Egypt, which has no diplomatic ties with Iran, has accused Tehran of backing the alleged plot.

Iran and Hezbollah charge that Egypt contrived the case after Nasrallah urged Egyptian citizens and soldiers to protest against Cairo’s refusal to open its border with Gaza during Israel’s offensive.


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