Qursaya defendants accused of being paid, denied by lawyer

Armed Forces Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali has claimed that 25 people fired at Armed Forces personnel during the Qursaya clashes in November, including 20 suspects who were not residents of the island.

Ali further alleged during a press conference held on the island Sunday that 20 suspects admitted to receiving money from a third party.

Ali also said that the Armed Forces owned 25 feddans on the island that had been legally registered since 2007, saying that no one was evicted from the area. He claimed further that residents had committed acts of violence against the Armed Forces since 28 February 2011, but that the military had been too busy with other security concerns to deal with it.

Sayed Fathy, the director of the Al-Helali Freedom Center and the attorney of a number of defendants in the Qursaya case, demanded that Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi starts an investigation into these comments.

The goal of these statements, Fathy said, is to mislead public opinion, insult the defendants, and attempt to save face of those who violently attacked the residents of the island.

Fathy said the allegation that suspects received money is entirely untrue.

The Helali Center director posted on Facebook, “The case documents and the testimony of the defendants are available for anyone who wants to check.”

Army forces attacked the resident of Qursaya on 18 November 2012 killing a fisherman and injuring others, while 25 residents were arrested and are now facing military trials, which will resume on 28 January.

The island residents had acquired a court ruling in 2008 confirming their right reside on the land, and the Armed Forces has drawn heavy criticism from human rights groups and civil society for referring the residents to a military trial, as well as for their heavy-handed actions in breaking up their protests.

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