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Zeitoun case defendant exposes torture injuries in court

Today, Saturday the 20th of March, the Emergency State security court of Abbaseyya,Cairo held the second session in what has come to be known as El Zeitoun case.

The defendants remained handcuffed while in the court house and although the judge ordered the handcuffs to be removed upon the request of the lawyers, the senior rank security authorities present in the court room ignored the order, but then had to comply when the matter was raised again by the lawyers.



The striking event of today's session was the defendants publicly declaring for the first time that they have been subject to torture while in state security intelligence detention center as well as in prison. Mohamed Khamis, the second on the list of the accused, took off his shirt, and turned his back to the many media cameras present in the court room exposing injuries that he said were a result of flogging back in September 2009. Almost six months later the injuries were still visible through the bars of the cage where they were held. The defense insisted that the judge examine the injuries, upon which he summoned Khamis to the bench and personally examined his back, which showed several marks of flogging. According to Khamis the flogging took place when he denied his confession in September 2009 to the prosecution claiming that it was given under duress. Khamis also showed the judge a right broken middle finger and claimed that this injury was a result of maltreatment in prison, which continues until now and which involves beating and stripping.



The judge ordered the incident to be recorded in the minutes of the session and ordered his examination by forensic medicine as well as several others who made similar complaints, including Ahmed El Sayed Sharawi, Ahmed Adel Hussein, Yassr Abdel Qader, Mohamed Ahmed El Dessouki, Ahmed el Sayed Nassif, Mostafa Nasr Mostafa, Abdallah Abdel Monged and Ahmed Mokhaimar).



Khamis also complained that the public attorney Taher El Kholy reformulated the answers given by Khamis and at times reversed his answers completely. For example, when asked whether he knew the name of the jewelry shop whose owner was killed Khamis replied "no", while the El Kholy dictated "Cleopatra".



He also stated that in the first interrogation session he did not have a lawyer, while in subsequent ones the interrogation was attended by a person an unknown person to him who claimed to be his lawyer. That lawyer did not provide any defense or legal counsel to the defendant. Upon return to his detention center Khamis would be harassed by SSI authorities regarding what he said in front of the prosecution.



Khamis and El Sharawi also suffered epileptic fits during their detention, as confirmed by a report from the Cairo university medical hospital. The former had his first convulsion during the interrogations in state security prosecution. The medical report was not included in the case files although there was reference made to it by the prosecution.



The session began with the lawyers bringing to the attention of the court that the visitation permits issued by the court were not implemented and that the lawyers and the families of the defendants were prevented from seeing the detainees held at the Tora Isteqbal prison by the prison administration. The lawyers submitted documents proving that families and the lawyers had obtained permissions in that regard, upon which the court asked the state security pubic attorney present in the session, to enable them to undertake those visits, which he confirmed he would do.



The lawyers then contested the court in view of its unconstitutionality and submitted requests to annex to the case file the detention orders issued by the minister of interior including the specification of the detention centers, undeclared until now, where the detainees were held since the date of their detention until the beginning of the hearings. They also requested the annexation of the complaints concerning the forced disappearance of the detainees which they had submitted to the prosecution of Central Cairo as well as summoning the director of public security as a witness.
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