By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: The defense team of outspoken former TV host and columnist Hamdy Qandil called on the court to step down after the judge allegedly seemed bias to the opponent, lawyer Gamal Eid told Daily News Egypt Sunday.
Qandil is standing trial before the Giza Criminal Court on charges of “defaming and insulting” Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit in a column he had published on May 3 in daily independent Al-Shorouk newspaper.
“During the hearing [on Saturday], we were not given the proper opportunity to present our demands before the court at the beginning of the hearing,” added Eid, also the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (AHRI).
“Neither did the judge allow us to make our pleas, while giving [the whole time] to Aboul-Gheit’s lawyers to make their please. So we contested the procedural validity of the trial,” he explained.
According to Eid, the judge’s words also implied that he was biased to Aboul-Gheit.
Qandil’s lawyers argued that the presence of Aboul-Gheit was critical and that the trial would have not been correct without his testimony.
The court, however, refused to summon Aboul-Gheit, considering his presence unnecessary.
A new hearing will be scheduled in the coming few days to look into Qandil’s defense’s request to delegate another court to look into the case.
On May 3, Qandil wrote an article titled “The Homeland’s Disgrace and that of the Citizen,” concluding it by denouncing the state for its normalization with Israel.
In his column, Qandil fiercely criticized contradictory remarks made by both Egypt’s ambassador to Israel and Aboul Gheit.
“Egypt’s ambassador to Israel has confirmed that he lives in [a friendly] country, which contradicts earlier statements by the foreign minister, describing Israel as an enemy,” he wrote.
Qandil added that the reason the ambassador made this comment was to correct the foreign minister’s previous gaffe. He further said that the foreign minister made his statement “inadvertently.”
“Usually words fall from his mouth like garbage falling out of a torn rubbish bag,” Qandil wrote.
Yet during the interrogation preceding the trial, Qandil told the prosecutor that he did not intend to offend Aboul Gheit personally, adding that he had the “public’s interest” at heart.
“Qandil did not mean to offend Aboul Gheit. He meant to criticize his performance as a minister,” Assem Qandil, the defendant’s brother and a member of the defense team, previously told Daily News Egypt.