File Photo: Prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah on trial in 2013 (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Cairo Criminal court has adjourned the retrial of prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and another 24 activists over illegal protesting and clashes with security forces to next 15 September 2014.
Disagreements erupted in court after a personal video of Abdel Fattah was shown, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported. Defence lawyer – and prominent activist – Khaled Ali said the video is not related to the trial and questioned the reasons behind showing it.
The judge agreed to note the defence's objection to the videos.
The court also heard witnesses during the session. However, not all of them provided a similar storyline. One witness said he could not specifically identify persons who committed charges while another named Abdel Fattah as the person who attacked a policeman during the events.
According to activist Mona Seif, Abdel Fattah's sister he asked to address the court but the judge refused. Mona Seif also added on her official twitter account that the word of Abdel El-Fattah was going to be published later and that his defense team presented to the judge in a written letter.
All the defendants received a 15-year jail term in June, in absentia, and were ordered to pay a fine of LE100,000 for rioting, destruction of public property and using violence against security forces.
However, only three of the defendants are in prison: Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (Noubi) and Wael Metwally were arrested outside the court when the verdict was delivered. In August, they began a hunger strike to protest their convictions.
The three detained activists, Abdel-Fattah, Nouby and Metwally, will remain in jail while the rest of defendants were released pending trial.
The rest were never arrested and seven of them have started a sit-in and hunger strike at the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) to demand the revocation of the protest law and the release of all political detainees, among other demands.
Abdel-Fattah and 24 others were tried in relation to a protest held last November at the Shura Council to denounce an article in the new constitution allowing civilians to be tried by military courts.
The verdict in June caused uproar among rights activists, who called for the immediate release of Abdel-Fattah and the others as well as for the abolition of the new protest law, which they deem restrictive.
Meanwhile, families and friends of detained and imprisoned activists said on Sunday that they would gradually begin a hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees.
In total, there are 66 political detainees and prisoners on a hunger strike in Egyptian prisons. Egyptian authorities consistently deny the existence of political detainees, arguing that they have all been arrested on apolitical charges and are awaiting trial.