British diplomats urged to keep mum on Egypt trial

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 16:00:14 -0000

Lawyer of 23 Egyptians, three Britons calls on British diplomats not to
speak to media to avoid damaging case. 

CAIRO - The defence in the trial of 23 Egyptians and three Britons,
accused of belonging to an outlawed Islamic group, called Wednesday for
diplomatic observers not to speak to the media for the sake of his
Lawyer Montasser al-Zayat called on the supreme state security court to
ask British diplomats not to speak to the media "so as to avoid
misinterpretation of their comments, especially on torture." 

Such comments could damage the case of the defence, Zayat said at the
fourth hearing of the trial, which opened October 20. 

The court, whose verdicts cannot be appealed, decided the next six
hearings would be taken up by an examination of the "books, documents,
tracts, two computers, discs and cassettes" seized when the accused were

The accused pleaded not guilty at the start of their trial, which has
drawn flak from Amnesty International. 

Reza Pankhurst said he and his fellow British defendants rounded up in
April had been subjected to prolonged torture following their arrest and
that they were in Cairo only to study Arabic. 

Pankhurst, Ian Malcolm Nisbett and Maajid Nawaz, as well as 22
Egyptians, stand accused of belonging to and trying to reactivate the
banned Islamic Liberation Party, and aiming to overthrow the government.

A 23rd Egyptian is being tried in absentia. 

If convicted, the accused could be sentenced to up to 25 years in jail
with hard labour. 

British diplomats have been attending the hearings. 

In August, a judicial source said Pankhurst confessed to being in charge
of organising Islamic Liberation Party cells in Egypt, while Nawaz had
said he was seeking the overthrow of all leaders of Muslim countries. 
Their compatriot, computer engineer Nisbett had called for an Islamic
caliphate, according to the source. 

The rights group Amnesty International has expressed concern that Egypt
had not allowed investigation of reports that the defendants had been
tortured in custody. 
The Islamic Liberation Party, or Hizb al-Tahrir, which emerged in Jordan
in the early 1970s, seeks to restore the caliphate, or one Islamic
government for all Muslim states. 

The movement spread to several Arab countries, including Egypt where it
was disbanded following an attempted coup in the 1970s. 

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