A Cairo court postponed the verdict in the retrial of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy on Thursday, giving no explanation for the delay and providing no clear information as to when a final verdict would be delivered.
The postponement has diminished hopes for a speedy resolution of the more than 18 month ordeal and raised fears that a harsh verdict could be imminent.
“I see the postponement as another insult to us, to our families, to our lawyers, because no one informed us officially,” said Mr. Fahmy in the sweltering summer heat outside Cairo’s Tora prison complex where the trial was set to take place. “We are here, we are expecting a sentence, and no explanation why it has been adjourned or postponed.”
Last year, Mr. Fahmy, an award-winning journalist who previously worked for CNN, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times was sentenced to seven years in jail alongside Australian journalist Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed on terror-related charges in a trial widely denounced as a farce.
After spending more than one year in jail, an appeals court threw out the conviction and ordered a retrial on the grounds that there was a lack of evidence in the first trial. Mr. Greste was deported in January, and in February Mr. Fahmy and Mr. Mohamed were released on bail.
Mr. Fahmy told reporters outside the entrance to Cairo’s Tora prison, that he had been told to leave the area in front of court and given no explanation for the postponement of the trial. Mr. Fahmy, his co-defendant Mr. Mohamed and his lawyers were left to speculate the reason for the delay.
“This worries me. Is this going to be a harsh sentence? Will this be bad publicity as we approach the August 6th Suez Canal opening?” said Mr. Fahmy. A new Suez Canal is set to open August 6th which the Egyptian government has hailed an economic success and deemed “Egypt’s Gift to the World.”
Others speculated that the trial had been postponed because the judge, Hassan Farid had fallen ill. Mr. Farid’s son told Agence France Presse by phone that his father had postponed the session due to sickness.
“It’s shocking … when you are on this side of the world, you realize how lucky we are in Canada that there is … organization, respect of your rights, laws and rules,” said Mr. Fahmy. “It makes a big difference in people’s lives and today is the best example.”
Canada’s minister of state for consular affairs said the government was calling on Egypt to use “all the tools at its disposal” to resolve Fahmy’s case.
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SOURCE: The Globe & Mail, Kristen McTighe