Egypt starts Al-Jazeera reporters retrial Feb 12, Fahmy's family says 'worst nightmare'

Ahram Online , Sunday 8 Feb 2015

The retrial comes as Australian Peter Greste, one of the three journalists, reached hometown after deportation and Mohamed Fahmy set to be released after giving up Egyptian citizenship

The first retrial session for Al-Jazeera journalists will be held on February 12, judicial sources said on Sunday.

Egypt's Court of Cassation had accepted the appeal filed against sentences handed down to the three journalists working for the Doha-based network on 1 January. The retrial comes after Australian Peter Greste, one of the three jailed for more than 400 days, was released last week and deported to his country of birth.

Egyptian Canadian Mohamed Fahmy gave up his Egyptian citizenship soon after, in order to be released and deported as well.

The foreign nationals were dealt with according to a law, passed in late 2014 that allows foreign convicts to be transferred to their country to either be retried or serve their sentence.

The fate of the third journalist, Baher Mohamed, who only holds the Egyptian citizenship, remains uncertain.

His wife on Sunday, however, told Ahram Online Baher will not seek a foreign citizenship or giving up his Egyptian one.

The three journalists, arrested in December 2013, were sentenced in June to jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years on charges of spreading false news and aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

The case was criticised by local and international rights groups as well as foreign embassies, who dubbed the trial as hasty and the procedures as flawed.

Another 15 defendants stand in the same case along with the journalists, with 11 people tried in absentia.

'Worst nightmare'

Fahmy's family said the retrial represents their "worst nightmare, to have to go through another circus of a retrial."

In a statement, released hours after setting the date for the retrial, the family said Egyptian authorities put him before the appeal hearing to renounce his citizenship as the "only way out for him and Peter." It also added that Fahmy himself "never requested that he drops his citizenship."

"Now, the general prosecutor is complicating matters even though both the presidency and the prime minister have expressed their desire to let him go as soon as possible," the statement said.

The family also said the Canadian government has let them down in handling the case, as opposed to the top Australian official who had done "an outstanding job" in the release of Greste.

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