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Criminal Justice | Continuation of “Rihan” Imprisonment, Turning Down Defense Motions: Another Episode of Cracking Down on Workers, Regime Opponents

The first syndicalist to be charged with insulting the president since July 3

Prosecutor accuses him of posting insults on Facebook

Court denies lawyers access to case papers, and imprisons him without justifications

Al-Nozha Misdemeanors Court, held on Nov. 20, 2014, heard the lawsuit filed against the leading labor activist Mahmoud Rehan, air traffic control officer at Cairo International Airport. The Public Prosecutor’s office charged him with insulting the President of the Republic, and with posting allegedly false news and statements likely to disturb public security, spread horror among the people and damage public interests. He was arrested after the airport’s Criminal Investigation Department wrote down an official report accusing him of publishing offensive statements against the President and writing comments inciting hatred against the regime on his personal account on “Facebook”.

The national security had detained him on 10 November after he was arrested at work headquarters. He was investigated at the airport on his political affiliation and the opinions posted on his Facebook page. Al-Nozha Prosecutor remanded him in custody for 4 days on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The Public Prosecutor’s Office interrogated the leading labor activist without allowing him access to lawyers. His lawyers were denied access to the case papers. The appeal magistrate renewed his detention on Thursday, Nov.13th, and once more the Public Prosecutor refused the appeal lodged against the decision of detention renewal. To the lawyers’ surprise, he was referred to an urgent hearing on Thursday, November 20, before the same court that renewed the detention order.

ECESR lawyers, as part of the defense team, asked permission to access the full official copy of all the case papers, and the release of the defendant. The lawyers said that the court was not competent to hear the case because of its previous detention order. To the lawyers’ surprise, the judge refused all motions without justification. He refused permitting lawyers to copy the case file, as well as refusing to release the defendant without justification. He bluntly said that he had never sensed embarrassment in considering any case. He decided adjourning the case for 27/11/2014 and the continuation of detention.

ECESR condemns the practice of not allowing the lawyers of Mahmoud Rihan to copy the case papers, and appeals to the judicial authorities to intervene to stop the spread of these practices that eliminate the guarantees of fair trial ensured under the Constitution and law.

It is noteworthy that Rihan is the first syndicalist to be charged with such an accusation since July 3. The case itself is deemed a crackdown on the freedom of expression as part of the regime’s orientation to hunt down social networking pages and filing cases against their owners. Furthermore, it is part of the crackdown policy against whoever criticizes the regime in spite of the fact that their criticism is confined to the peaceful and legitimate means and away from what the regime so-called “war on terror.”

Update:

On December 4th, Al-Nozha Misdemeanor Court acquitted Mahmoud Rihan of the charges against him, including insulting the president and spreading rumors via the Facebook site.