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Al Jazeera trial adjourned until end of March

Giza Criminal Court adjourned the case of Al Jazeera’s detained staff until March 31, after a long and drawn-out session, in which the judge focused on questions about the journalists’ equipment.

“It was a very long and boring session,” Adel Fahmy, the brother of defendant Mohamed Fahmy, said. “We expected that they would have discussed the materials in the equipment not the legality of the equipment themselves.”

Fahmy told Mada Masr that most of the judge’s questions centered on how the defendants’ equipment got to Egypt and which pieces of evidence belonged to which defendant.

Mohamed Fahmy was arrested in December with two other colleagues, ​Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, after security raided their room at the Marriott Hotel in Zamalek. The authorities released the names of 17 other Al Jazeera journalists accused of belonging to the so-called “Marriott Cell” and committing acts related to terrorism and media violations, including falsifying news. 

The defendants are accused of collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egyptian authorities classified as a “terrorist organization” late last year, along with the charge of “spreading false news.”  

Monday’s session went by without problems. “I feel optimistic about the fact that the next session is in one week,” Fahmy added. “The judge said the materials will be discussed during the next session, which is the most important part of the case.” 

Fahmy also said he had cause for optimism after a letter written by Interim President Adly Mansour was received by the family on Sunday.

Mahmoud Fahmy, the defendant’s father, sent a letter to the president’s office over a month ago, outlining the injustices he claims his son has experienced during his detention, Adel Fahmy, the defendant’s brother, told Mada Masr.

“The letter explained that my brother is not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and that he is a professional journalist who previously worked with CNN, the BBC and many other reputable publications,” Adel Fahmy said.  The letter also contained information about an injury Fahmy had sustained that required medical attention and, possibly, an operation. “This morning, my brother was taken to Qasr al-Aini Hospital for an MRI scan,” he added.

Mohamed Fahmy could not move his arm more than a few centimeters, according to an article published in The Guardian on Sunday.

Adel Fahmy told Mada Masr that a week before his detention, Fahmy fractured his shoulder and that his family fears his condition will worsen due to the lack of proper medical care offered.

In his letter, President Mansour informed the defendant’s family that the interior minister has been notified of Fahmy’s medical condition and would personally see that he gets any necessary care.

Mansour added that he stands by the independence of the judiciary and that all necessary steps would be taken to ensure a prompt and fair solution to the case.  

“This letter is a big sign that things are changing in our country,” said Fahmy’s brother, who expressed hopes for the third hearing. “We believe in the integrity of the law.”  

Last week Peter Greste’s parents, Lois and Juris Greste, received a similar letter from President Mansour, saying that he would “spare no effort” to quickly resolve the case.

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