CAIRO: An Egyptian court yesterday rejected a plea for bail by jailed Al Jazeera journalists, who denied links with the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in a trial that has sparked international condemnation.
The journalists, who have spent nearly 100 days in jail since their arrest, are charged with spreading false news and supporting the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohamed Mursi.
“Please, get us out of jail, we are tired. We’ve been suffering in prison,” Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, the Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera English, told the judges.
He and his seven co-defendants, dressed in white prison uniforms, were briefly allowed out of the caged dock to address the court, in a rather unusual move.
The trial, in which 20 defendants stand accused, has sparked an international outcry and fuelled fears of a media crackdown by the military-installed authorities.
Australian reporter Peter Greste also pleaded to be released on bail, telling the judges “we only desire at this point to continue to fight to clear our names outside prison”.
“We would like to emphasise that we are more than willing to accept any conditions that you impose on us,” he added.
Producer Baher Mohamed said he wanted to be with his wife during her pregnancy.
“My wife is pregnant and she visits me in jail with the children. It is exhausting,” he said. “I want to be released on bail so I can be by her side.”
At the end of the session Mohamed said that “we are here representing freedom of expression”.
“It’s not only about us.”
The judges ordered that two defendants who claimed they had been tortured be examined by “independent forensic doctors”.
They then adjourned the trial to April 10 without granting bail to any of the accused.
Prosecutors insist the Al Jazeera journalists colluded with the Brotherhood, now designated a “terrorist” group, and falsely sought to portray Egypt in a state of “civil war”.
Fahmy said he cannot be considered as a terrorist or a Brotherhood member as he is a “liberal man” who drinks alcohol.
Greste also denied any links with the Brotherhood, saying he and fellow jailed journalists posed no threat to Egypt.
“The idea that I have a connection with the Muslim Brotherhood is frankly preposterous,” Greste told the judges, adding he had arrived in Cairo just two weeks before his arrest.
Eight defendants are in custody, and the rest are either on the run or abroad.
CAIRO: An Egypt court yesterday sentenced 33 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi to six-year jail terms each for committing acts of violence during an unauthorised protest, judicial sources said.
The accused, deemed by the court to be members of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, were found guilty of violent acts during clashes between Islamist demonstrators and opponents of Mursi in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria last December, the sources said.
A misdemeanour court in Alexandria found the defendants guilty of assaulting members of security forces, carrying out acts of violence, belonging to an outlawed organisation and taking part in an unauthorised protest, the sources said.
The court also ordered the defendants to pay a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds (around $7,173) each, the sources said. The verdict can be appealed.