Saudi customs agents testify drugs found on Egypt lawyer

AFP , Wednesday 26 Sep 2012

In the third hearing of the trial of Egyptian lawyer Ahmed Al-Gizawi, Saudi customs agents agents testified that they had found drugs with the Egyptian lawyer

Egypt lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi
Egypt lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi

Two Saudi customs agents testified on Wednesday that they found drugs on an Egyptian human rights lawyer whose arrest on trafficking charges in April sparked a diplomatic row with Cairo.

In the third hearing since the trial of Ahmed al-Gizawi began in July, two Saudi customs agents told the court they found Xanax tablets hidden among his belongings as he entered the kingdom.

"We found the tablets hidden amongst a pack of Korans and containers of baby milk (formula)," one of the agents told the court.

His colleague gave similar evidence. The agents' testimony came after Gizawi's lawyers told a hearing earlier this month that the charges against their client were fabricated. The next hearing is scheduled for October 10.

Gizawi was arrested in April and accused of trying to smuggle 21,380 capsules of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, which is banned in Saudi Arabia.

At the first hearing, the prosecution demanded the death penalty, the punishment for drug trafficking in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Gizawi had travelled in April to Saudi Arabia with his wife to perform the omra, the minor pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, when he was detained at Jeddah airport, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said.

The Egyptian organisation said at the time that Gizawi was held after he was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison and 20 lashes for criticising the Saudi government.

Gizawi was being targeted for his activism over Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons, it said.

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters rallied outside Riyadh's embassy in Cairo demanding his release, prompting the kingdom to shut down its mission.

The embassy reopened on May 4 following a fence-mending visit to King Abdullah by a large delegation of prominent Egyptian figures.

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