CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors submitted yesterday new evidence including audio tapes against defendants in a trial of Al Jazeera journalists accused of links with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, although lawyers disputed their quality.
At the trial’s last hearing, prosecutors had aired video footage and showed random photographs that were not linked to the case in which the authorities accuse 20 defendants of Brotherhood links.
Three of them are journalists from Al Jazeera English who have spent more than 100 days in detention, despite an international outcry against the case.
At yesterday’s session, prosecutors presented audio recordings against three defendants who allegedly provided videos of pro-Morsi protests to the network’s Egyptian channel, Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr.
But defence lawyers complained they were unable to understand the recording due to its poor technical quality.
“If anyone understands the content, please inform us,” one of the lawyers told the judges.
One judge responded: “I can hear it from my side”.
But journalists reporting on the trial also talked of poor sound quality.
Prosecutors also submitted photographs of maps said to be of the area housing the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Cairo — a site of some pro-Mursi protests, and leaflets calling for protests. Photographs also showed bodies on the ground covered in blankets.
When the audio recordings were played, eight defendants who are in custody, dressed in white prison uniforms, talked among themselves in a caged dock, the reporter said.
Al Jazeera says nine of the 20 defendants are on its staff including the three detained journalists working with Al Jazeera English — Peter Greste of Australia, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed.
Two other Al Jazeera English journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane are also among the defendants but they are being tried in absentia.
Four others named are Egyptian producers and engineers working for the network in Qatar. They also are being tried in absentia and have refuted the charges levelled against them.
The other 11 defendants are alleged to have provided the network with videos and information on pro-Mursi demonstrations.
Prosecutors allege 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”.
Al Jazeera English says the allegations against its reporters are absurd.
At yesterday’s session, Fahmy, one of the three detained journalists, requested medical treatment for an injury. “I have been prescribed three physiotherapy sessions in prison, and I exercise in my cell,” he told the judges.
“I am sure I will be acquitted but I don’t want to lose (the use of) my hand. Allow me to be transferred for treatment to a private hospital at my own expense because it is impossible to get treatment in prison.”