Trial of Egyptian lawyer El-Gizawi in Saudi to begin Wednesday

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Jul 2012

Three months after his arrest in Saudi Arabia provoked protests outside the kingdom's Cairo embassy, Egyptian lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi is to face trial on drug charges

Ahmed El-Gizawi
Egyptian lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi

The trial of Ahmed El-Gizawi, the Egyptian lawyer whose arrest on drug charges in Saudi Arabia provoked a diplomatic spat between Cairo and Jeddah in April, is set to start on Wednesday.

Egypt's consul general in Jeddah, Ambassador Ali El-Ashry, released a statement with the news on Thursday.

The consulate's legal advisor has been granted permission to attend the trial and will receive a copy of the indictment before the trial starts, said El-Ashry.

Islam Bakr, the second defendant in the case, who faces the same charges as El-Gizawi, will also be tried.

The trial date has been set as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi conducts a two day visit to Saudi Arabia, his first visit to a foreign country since taking office on 30 June.

Egyptian author Alaa Al-Aswany is among a number of prominent figures who have called on President Morsi to raise with Saudi officials the issue of El-Gizawi's "illegal detention" and that of "thousands of other Egyptians detained in Saudi jails."

There have been no reports whether the president discussed the matter with Saudi royals when they met on Wednesday in Jeddah.

The El-Gizawi case has been highly controversial since he was detained on 17 April 2012 on drug charges whilst attempting to enter the Kingdom to perform an umrah Islamic pilgrimage.

He was officially accused him of smuggling 21,000 anti-depressant pills into the kingdom. 

El-Gizawi had earlier filled a lawsuit calling for the release of Egyptians being held without charge in Saudi prisons, which many activists believe was the main reason for his arrest and detention by the Saudis.

Following his detention, protests erupted outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo, which prompted the Saudi authorities to shut down their embassy for almost a week and temporally recall their ambassador on 28 April.

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