Witnesses change testimony, Mortada Mansour kicked out in ‘Camel Battle’ trial

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CAIRO: Two prosecution witnesses changed their testimony Wednesday in favor of two defendants as the judge kicked out defendant and outspoken lawyer Mortada Mansour in the fourth hearing of the “Battle of the Camel” trial.

Twenty-five former officials and MPs are facing charges of ordering the attack on protesters in Tahrir Square on Feb. 2 and 3, in which camels and horses were used.

Mansour, who was previously rebuked by the judge for interrupting the prosecutor and others, was kicked out of the hearing Wednesday after he insulted the first witness and accused him of perjury.

“Liars! It didn’t happen,” Mansour shouted.

The first witness Aly Soliman El-Shorbagy testified that he saw Mansour in a white Jeep on the Sixth of October Bridge near Tahrir Square, surrounded by 15 thugs. He added that the thugs were given orders to throw Molotov cocktails and rocks at protesters in Tahrir. He called Mansour a “thug.”

Mansour’s defense team withdrew from the hearing in protest and the rest of the lawyers urged the judge to allow him to attend the hearing. Mansour put up a fight when the judge ordered him to leave the courtroom, promising to be quiet if the judge allowed him to stay.

Judge Moustafa Hasaan Abdallah then went to recess and when the hearing resumed, Mansour had already left the courtroom. The judge said later in the day that Mansour would be allowed to attend the next hearing.

There was a major contradiction between the testimony of El-Shorbagy and his friend Mohamed Abdel Hameed who said he saw Mortada in a black Jeep the same day.

Two of the witnesses Ibrahim Metwally Ramadan and Khaled Mohamed Abdel Azim admitted changing their testimony in front of the court in favor of some of the defendants. They justified their position saying their previous testimonies in front of the prosecution were based on heresy.

They said they withdrew complaints filed to the prosecutor general against the defendants because they made a mistake.

Metwally, a tour guide, said he was incited by a friend to file a complaint against defendants and former MPs Ragab Helal Hemeida and Talaat El-Qawwas, accusing them of paying people money to attack peaceful protesters.

Abdel Azim, an owner of an import-export company, said he heard that defendant and former MP Mohamed Ouda had paid thugs to attack people in the square and filed a complaint to that effect.

He later realized based on the testimonies of prominent people from his area that these accusations were false.

The trial was adjourned to Oct. 8.

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