Anti-army blogger Maikel Nabil threatens to commit suicide

Sarah Raslan, Monday 17 Oct 2011

Maikel Nabil, not wishing to participate in the military's 'soap opera', requests his lawyers not attend tomorrow's retrial

Maikel Nabil
Maikel Nabil in Tahrir Square

A day ahead of the retrial of Maikel Nabil in a military court, his younger brother, Mark, has expressed his fear that the detained blogger will die in prison. He said that Maikel threatened to commit suicide if he is not released from prison.

“Now that he has threatened to commit suicide, we are afraid that the military will kill him and then wipe their hands clean of his blood by saying that he killed himself,” Mark said.

The now frail and weak activist, who has been on a hunger strike for 56 days, told his younger brother Monday of his latest protest method.

“Maikel said he is boycotting martial law and military trials and has asked that his lawyers not show up at the courthouse tomorrow for the retrial,” said Mark, who has acted as his brother's voice since the latter’s arrest on 28 March.

“Any lawyers that the military bring on behalf of Maikel Nabil tomorrow do not represent him in any way.”

Mark said that his brother’s health is continuously deteriorating; he cannot stand, walk or properly speak, and now weighs only 40 kilograms.

He added that Maikel also expressed disapproval over an apology his father issued to the country’s de-facto ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on his behalf.

“Maikel said this apology or appeal is not something he agrees with and that he has nothing to apologise for,” Mark said.

On 5 October, Maikel’s father, Nabil Sanad, issued a written and signed apology on behalf of Maikel to the military after they promised his son would be granted freedom the following day. Mark said military officials told his father that Maikel would be released on 6 October along with other detainees.

“When we asked why Maikel wasn’t released they said that the apology helped grant him a retrial,” Mark said. “We didn’t want a retrial, we wanted Maikel to be released.”

Maikel was arrested in late March after publishing a blog post entitled “The people and the army were never one hand,” in reference to a popular slogan - chanted in the wake of the recent 18-day uprising - meant to highlight popular trust in Egypt’s Armed Forces. The blogger was later sentenced to three years in prison with a stiff financial penalty for "insulting the army."

After two court dates at military court C28 to appeal Maikel’s sentence and obtain his release, the detained blogger’s jail sentence was revoked and a retrial was scheduled for Tuesday 18 October.

“The reason Maikel doesn’t want his lawyers present tomorrow is because he does not want to participate in this soap opera that the military has cooked up,” Mark said.

“First they postponed his trial because the judge did not have his file in front of him, knowing fully well that they are toying with someone’s life. Then they ordered a retrial and kept him in prison. And through all this they still refuse to send my dying brother to a hospital even though we said we would handle all expenses.”

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