Maikel Nabil to be sent to psychiatric hospital for evaluation

Sarah Raslan, Thursday 20 Oct 2011

Family of Egyptian blogger on hunger strike for 58 days in shock at military court decision; 'Maikel is not mentally ill, he is perfectly sane' says brother

Maikel Nabil
Maikel Nabil


Instead of being granted his long-awaited freedom following a retrial on Tuesday, Maikel Nabil's lawyer said the C28 military court had ordered the weak and frail activist be sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. 

The outcome of Tuesday's retrial came after a court-appointed lawyer for Maikel appealed to the judge that the detained blogger was mentally unstable. 

"They're taking him to the hospital and will most likely just declare him insane," said Maged Hanna, one of the two lawyers on Maikel's self-appointed defence team.

Maikel, his family and his lawyers were not present at the court after Maikel called for a total boycott of the military law and trial process, which he called ‘the military's soap opera’.

Hanna said the court appointed Maikel a lawyer for the trial without the activist's approval. He added that according to the verdict, it seems the court-appointed lawyer was not well acquainted with Maikel's case.

Maikel's brother, Mark Nabil, said the family had no knowledge of the court's sentence as of Wednesday evening. 

Mark said he had heard rumours of the psychiatric hospital verdict throughout the day but had not had it confirmed until speaking to this Ahram Online reporter. 

He added that Maikel is still in prison and has not yet been transferred to the hospital.

"I'm in utter shock at what happened," Mark said. "I'm very worried and concerned that they will give Maikel drug injections and electrify him at this hospital, further damaging his health and possibly killing him."

"We asked for him to be sent to a private hospital for treatment for his failing health, not a psychiatric hospital for his mental health," Mark added. "Maikel is not mentally ill, he is perfectly sane."

Maikel has been on a hunger strike for 58 days and had previously vowed not to end his strike until he is freed from prison. It is unclear whether the starving activist will end his strike while at the hospital. 

Maikel was arrested in late March after publishing a blog post entitled, “The people and the army were never one hand,” in direct contrast to a popular revolution chant which highlighted the public’s trust in the military during the January 25 Revolution. The blogger was later sentenced to three years in prison and fined LE200 (roughly $30).

A military appeals court revoked Maikel’s three-year prison sentence last week and ordered a retrial, which was set for Wednesday, 18 October.

Maikel has been widely criticised for his pro-Israel views, which he openly voiced on his blog. The blogger's supporters have previously said that they do not support his opinions, but his freedom to express them. 

Hanna, Maikel's lawyer, said he is not sure what the next step for Maikel will be or when there will be another trial. 

"If they really take him to the hospital then I am assuming there will not be another trial until they have evaluated his mental health like they said," Hanna said. 

"And when that happens they will most likely just declare him insane."

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