Political activist Ahmed Douma of the 6 April movement looks on behind bars in Cairo, December 22, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
An Egyptian criminal court suspended on Tuesday the trial of dozens of defendants, including a prominent hunger-striking activist, over 2011 violence-related charges until a request to refer the case to a different bench is settled.
Activist and blogger Ahmed Douma, along with 268 other co-defendants, are charged with illegal assembly, and attacking army and police personnel and state institutions during clashes that date back to December 2011.
An appeal court is due to look at a request submitted by Douma's defence to refer the case to another bench on 1 October, a judicial source told Ahram Online.
Douma, detained since December, began his hunger strike on 28 August to protest his imprisonment. His lawyer and other activists say his health is at risk. Dozens of others inside and outside Egyptian jails have joined a hunger strike campaign to demand the release of those they say are unfairly detained in cases involving freedom of expression.
Judges on Tuesday ordered Douma not be transferred from prison to any hopsital without judges' consent, amid calls by activists that the defendant be kept in an outside hospital due to his increasingly failing health.
Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces on 16 December 2011, when police forcibly dispersed a three-week-long sit-in near the cabinet office in downtown Cairo. At least 18 were killed and hundreds injured in the violence which spanned five days, now referred to as the cabinet clashes.
The sit-in was protesting against the appointment of then prime minister, Kamal El-Ganzouri, by a military junta that took over power following the ouster of autocrat president Hosni Mubarak.