The Egyptian court was to conclude Thursday one of Egypt’s most debated cases since the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime, also among the longest trial the country has witnessed recently: the infamous “Al-Jazeera case.”
The trial was postponed to 2 August,according to state media, as police officers at the entrance of Tora Police Institute where the session was to be held, earlier informed journalists and did not allow them inside. They said Judge Hassan Farid, who was to give the ruling, reportedly suffered a health condition.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed await the Cairo Criminal Court’s final say regarding accusations of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, spreading false information regarding Egypt’s national security and promoting terrorism, through their work as journalists at the Qatari channel.
Mohamed and his lawyer Mostafa Nagy were the only ones allowed in, as sessions usually start at 10 am. When asked an hour and a half after ‘rumors’, Nagy told Daily News Egypt that there was still no official confirmation from the judiciary side on what was going to happen.
“We need an official statement by the secretariat of the court with the date of the next hearing but that person did not show up and currently we have no further information,” Nagy said earlier in the morning.
The families of the three journalists have suffered along, whether Greste’s parents in Australia or his brothers who attended trial. Fahmy’s fiancée Marwa Omara has led an intensive local and international campaign to support him amid postponed marriage plans.
Mohamed’s wife Jihan Rashed, gave birth to a baby boy, in addition to having two children constantly asking on the whereabouts of their father.
The case now enters its 579th day, since their arrest on 28 December 2013. police raided a hotel apartment rent by Greste and Fahmy, showered them with questions related to equipment licenses, details on their work with the network, and reasons for working inside a hotel room.
Those were answered by Fahmy in Arabic, as Greste sat in puzzled.Then, security forces attacked Mohamed’s house, as his wife stood in fear watching masked gunmen deteriorating the place where their children were sleeping.
The Al-Jazeera trial had not only sparked international reactions over the course of almost two years, and after months, especially after charges against the three were upheld on 23 June 2014,. Judge Nagy Shehata sentenced Greste and Fahmy to seven years in prison and Mohamed to ten, being also accused of ‘possession of weapon.’
The president was ‘forced’ to have a response on the matter. In November 2014, a new law believed to have stemmed from Al-Jazeera case, allowed the deportation of foreign convicts or suspects to their country, at any time during the investigations process or trial.
After more than another 200 days behind bars, a cassation court ordered they be re-tried on.1 January 2015.Greste is Australian while Fahmy is Egyptian with a Canadian citizenship. Evidently, Mohamed was facing discrimination.
However, the issue of fairness was not only Mohamed’, as only Greste who was finally allowed to leave Egypt on 1 February 2015. At the same time, Fahmy was pressured to revoke his Egyptian nationality in exchange for deportation.
But even his consent to do so was unsuccessful. While an official state letter on the nationality deal was issued on 25 December 2014, Fahmy did not walk free until 12 February 2015 and after a high bail, EGP 250,000, which his colleagues did not have to pay.
Still, ‘freedom’ was severely restricted, as both defendants complained numerously that they were under travel ban, had no identification papers whatsoever, and were ordered to sign at the police station regularly.
Little by little, flaws in the legal case became more obvious. It was an empty bullet the journalist had taken back from his work in Libya and it was video footage and pictures of Greste’s personal life that was used in court, instead of criminal evidence.
The Marriott hotel gave its name to the case, which became publicly known as the “Marriott terrorist cell.” The three have become labeled as supporters of the terrorist organisation and agents for the anti-Egyptian national security Al-Jazeera network.
The defendants claimed above all they had not known they were manipulated by Al-Jazeera, as Fahmy sued the network for causing their detention.
Greste spent 400 days in prison, while Fahmy and Baher stayed 411 days. After their first 177 days in, the three were absolutely expecting their innocence ‘be declared,’ Greste tells the Foreign Correspondent that on the first verdict day.