Court halts "cabinet clashes" trial to consider different bench

Tuesday 23-09-2014 01:44 PM
Court halts

Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma stands behind bars during his trial - REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh


CAIRO, Sept 23 (Aswat Masriya) -  The Cairo Criminal Court halted on Tuesday the trial of political activist and blogger Ahmed Douma and 268 others over taking part in the "cabinet clashes" which occurred in December 2011.

The trial was halted until the court rules on referring the case to a different bench, as per the defence team's request. 

The court also ordered the minister of interior and his deputy for the prison sector not to transfer Douma anywhere, including hospital, without the court's permission.

Douma, detained since December, started a hunger strike on August 28 to protest his imprisonment. Douma's lawyer had said his client lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. 

Osama al-Mahdy, Douma's lawyer, had earlier told Aswat Masriya the request to change the bench was made due to the bench's "obstinacy" in meeting the defence team's requests.

Mahdy withdrew from an earlier trial session on September 3 after the court referred him alongside two other lawyers to investigation. The court had accused the lawyers of "rioting" and refusing to follow its orders, according to an eyewitness account.

The defendants are charged with illegal assembly, possession of bladed weapons and Molotov cocktails, assaulting army and police personnel and attacking governmental institutions in December 2011 during the "cabinet clashes".  

Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces outside the cabinet headquarters in December 2011, leaving at least three people dead and 255 wounded.

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) recommended medical supervision at an external hospital for Douma and other hunger-striking prisoners earlier this month. 

Douma's wife filed a report to the prosecutor-general against the interior minister and his deputy for prison affairs for their tenacity in the matter of transferring Douma to the hospital after his health condition worsened. 

Hunger strikes have lately become a common tool to protest detention, used by those arrested for political reasons.

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