By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: The trial of former interior minister Habib El-Adly was adjourned to April 2 to allow the defense team time to prepare for the case and review documents.
Essam El-Batawy, the lawyer representing El-Adly, told Daily News Egypt he was not authorized by his client to speak to the media about any details regarding the case.
El-Adly is accused of money laundering and unlawful acquisition of public money.
Judge Al-Mohammadi Qunsua said El-Adly had exploited his position as a public servant to sell land to a contractor doing work for the interior ministry, in a deal worth LE 4.8 million (around $813,000).
He also accused El-Adly of money laundering to the tune of LE 4.5 million (around $762,000).
El-Adly entered the dock wearing a white tracksuit and a cap. He denied accusations filed against him saying, “It didn’t happen,” twice, in a calm tone.
Civil society lawyers volunteering for the prosecution called for El-Adly to pay financial compensation that would be given to martyrs’ families.
According to Atteya Mohamed, civil society lawyer volunteering for the prosecution, some lawyers demanded LE 10 million, while others demanded LE 50 million depending on their evaluation of the amount of damage caused by El-Adly.
“Every lawyer can demand the amount of compensation he sees fit,” Mohamed told DNE.
The New Cairo Court hearing the case was surrounded by riot police and around a dozen security trucks were parked near one of its entrances. Three army trucks also surrounded the courthouse.
Many reporters were prevented from entering the court session, including a reporter for Dream TV’s “Al-Ashera Masa’an” as well as prominent TV presenter and journalist Wael El-Ibrashi.
“A large number of reporters were prevented from entering the court session which gives an impression that they’re trying to enforce a blackout on the trial,” El-Ibrashi told DNE.
“Maybe they’re doing that because they don’t want [El-Adly] to be insulted. But I believe that whoever insults and kills the people should be treated like any other defendant,” he added.
Officers and army soldiers cooperated to control the situation. Initially, 40 reporters were to be allowed in, but only 20 were let inside. After being authorized to enter the courthouse, several reporters were denied entrance inside the courtroom.
“We want El-Adly’s trial to be public because it’s a trial against Mubarak’s regime not just El-Adly,” El-Ibrashi said. “This will send a message to the world that Egypt has in fact changed and any official who violates the peoples’ rights will be put inside the dock.”
Lawyer Ibrahim Bassioni who attended the court session agreed, saying, “TV should be allowed to film this trial because it is history and it should be documented.”
El-Adly would be the first of toppled president Hosni Mubarak’s regime to face trial.
Around 50 protesters stood outside the courthouse chanting, “The people want the assassin executed,” referring to El-Adly. The protesters also demanded to attend his trial.
“Where’s the justice and freedom we supposedly have?” Ibrahim Abdallah, 25, asked. “Why are all these officers protecting [El-Adly]?”
“I was to see him get what he deserves…I want to see him in the dock,” he added.
“I want to see him executed,” construction worker Haitham Mohamed, 18, told DNE. “Execution is merciful for the likes of him.”
Political and human rights activists accuse El-Adly of ordering security forces to fire live ammunition on peaceful protests during the revolution which broke out on Jan. 25. El-Adly is currently being investigated for these accusations, but no official charges have been made against him.
For 18 days protests, which led Mubarak to step down, saw bloody clashes between protesters and El-Adly’s security forces, leaving at least 384 people dead and over 6,000 injured while scores were detained. Local NGOs put the number of detainees close to 500 and are still gathering data.
El-Adly was arrested on Feb. 17, along with former tourism minister Zoheir Garranah and steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, a senior member of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party. –Additional reporting by AFP.