El-Gizawi 'accomplices' deny Saudi drug charges

Ahram Online, Sunday 13 May 2012

In latest twist in diplomatically-charged case, two alleged accomplices – an Egyptian and a Saudi – deny links to detained Egyptian lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi

El-Gizawi embassy protest
Egyptian protesters take part in a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Cairo (Photo: AFP)

Two additional suspects in the case against Egyptian lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi, who currently stands accused of smuggling narcotics into Saudi Arabia, have reportedly denied the charges brought against them.    

The two men, a Saudi pharmacist and an Egyptian accountant, both continue to maintain their innocence, Saudi daily Madina reported, stressing they have no ties to El-Gizawi.

The two suspects are currently being investigated by Saudi's prosecutor-general. Investigations are expected to continue for the next couple of days, according to reports in the Saudi press. 

Saudi Organisation for Human Rights deputy head Suleiman Ibn-Salem Al-Haniny, who is also serving as El-Gizawi's lawyer, stated that he had attended the session in which the suspects were interrogated and met with the head of the Saudi prosecution's narcotics department.

According to Al-Haniny, drug prescriptions reportedly found in the suspects' possession, corresponding to the exact amount of drugs found, could work in El-Gizawi's favour. He stressed, however, that investigations remained ongoing and that the charges against the men had yet to be proven.    

El-Gizawi was detained in the oil-rich kingdom on 23 April while ostensibly in the country to perform the Muslim umrah or pilgrimage. A week after his arrest, the Saudi government officially accused the Egyptian lawyer of smuggling 21,000 anti-depressant pills – the illicit sale of which is illegal in Saudi – into the country. 

Before his arrest, El-Gizawi had filed a lawsuit in Egypt calling for the release of Egyptian nationals being held without charge in Saudi prisons, prompting many activists to believe that the lawyer had been specifically targeted by Saudi authorities.

The case initially led to a diplomatic row between the two countries late last month, resulting in the days-long closure of Saudi's Cairo embassy and consulate following protests staged outside the former by Egyptian activists.

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