By: Emily Crane
Tuesday marked the fourth day since Osama El-Refaey, member of the Al-Dostour Party, was arrested in Beheira on charges of attempting to burn a government building, according to his lawyer, Mohammed Abouelela.
Police arrested El-Refaey, 26, in Damanhour last Friday at 7.30 pm, brought him to the governorate building and accused him of setting it on fire, Abouelela said. He was interrogated along with three other detainees the next day and they were detained for four days pending their trial scheduled Tuesday, said Mohammed Abdelaziz, a human rights lawyer also working on the case.
However the trial was delayed, after El-Refaey was never brought to the courthouse, Abouelela said. Court officials told Abouelela that it was unsafe to transport the detainees through the streets because of protests Monday and Tuesday, claiming that the protesters were behaving violently.
Nader Arraqod, a member of Al-Dostour in Bahaira, confirmed that the party planned demonstrations in front of the courthouse in solidarity for El-Refaey. However, Abouelela, who attended the protests, said that the demonstrations were peaceful.
“We stood in front of the court with 150 members of Al-Dostour yesterday,” Abouelela said. “We waved our flags and we chanted but we didn’t harm anybody and we left after 20 minutes.”
Lawyers are working to learn whether it was the judge or the police who decided to postpone the trial and are hoping to bring El-Refaey before a judge very soon, Abouelela said. In the meantime, he has been given seven more days in jail.
“This is against the law,” said Abdelaziz. “The accused should not remain under arrest or locked up as this constitutes a crime; detention without due reason.”
Abouelela said he will try to visit El-Refaey in jail on Wednesday morning to determine his treatment, to let him know that lawyers are working on his case, and to check for any signs of torture.