‘Zeitoun cell’ defendants accuse govt of torture

The Supreme State Security Court received a surprise yesterday during the trial of the "Zeitoun cell," a group accused of plotting armed robberies and terrorist attacks. The judges had barely entered the courtroom when one of the defendants bared his back to the judges, revealing marks of torture on his body.

The court transferred him and six other defendants to forensics investigators to determine the nature of their injuries. The trial has been postponed until 18 April to collect testimony from witnesses and await the results of the forensic examination.

State Security prosecution had previously transferred 25 defendants to the High State Security Court, charging them in the killing of four Christians in a Zeitoun-area gold shop in Cairo and the formation of a terrorist cell seeking to commit acts of violence, in addition to usurping money belonging to Christians.

Yesterday’s hearing would have concluded the second session of the court. The accused arrived early and were placed into the courtroom cage by the guards. Metal and explosive detectors were then placed in front of the court building. A security cordon consisting of a large number of soldiers was deployed around the premises to protect the only door into the courtroom and to forbid families of the accused from entering.

The defense team waited inside the courtroom preparing for the beginning of the session. Meanwhile, the accused spoke with the media, denying their involvement in any crimes and claiming that they are the victims of false accusations.

Moments after the court usher announced the beginning of the day’s session, the accused screamed, interrupting the proceedings. The second defendant, Mohamed Khamis then removed his shirt, turning to show his back to the media and the judges.

Scars from torture were visible, causing one judge to order the guards to release him from the cage and bring him in front of the bench. The defendant removed his clothes again, allowing the judge to examine him. Six other defendants screamed that they had also been tortured. The judge decided to transfer these defendants to the Tripartheid Committee of the Department of Forensic Medicine to examine them for signs of torture.

The prosecution announced its witnesses for the case, while the Ministry of the Interior said it would conduct an investigation into where the accused were detained.

The defense requested that General Farouq Lashin, the director of the Department of Criminal Investigation and Adala Fayid, assistant interior minister for public security be summoned to appear in front of the court.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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