Adly trial postponed, clashes erupt at courthouse

Clashes erupted in front of the New Cairo Criminal Court on Sunday after the trial of former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides was postponed to 25 July.

As soon as protesters outside the court learned of the decision, some began throwing stones at the Central Security Forces (CSF), which were out in full force around the court.

At least three army officers were injured according to a military source, while a police officer told Al-Masry Al-Youm that five police were hurt by stones.

“We are devastated,” said Mohamed Abdu, an accountant who led chanting outside the court.

“[Adly] is accused of killing hundreds of innocent protesters but the regime is dealing with him as if he is still in his post as a minster,” Abdu said. “He came to the court in an armored vehicle. We wanted to tell him that we will never give up on the martyrs’ rights.”

Dozens of protesters and human rights activists began gathering outside the court in New Cairo at around 8 am, chanting anti-police slogans and demanding the death penalty for the once widely feared interior minister.

“There’s nothing left to say, we want the death penalty,” chanted the protesters. Some carried pictures of the revolution’s martyrs and chanted “The people want to hang the killer Habib.”

According to official figures, more than 840 people were killed and over 6000 wounded during protests that led to Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on 11 February. The former president is also scheduled to face trial for killing protesters at the beginning of August.

Hundreds of police, backed by military, cordoned off the buildings of New Cairo Court, allowing in only those with official court business. Only pre-registered journalists were permitted to attend the session.

Adly entered the court from a back door at around 9 am. The session commenced at around 11 am for five minutes, and judge Adel Abdel-Salam Gomaa decided to postpone the trial without offering an explanation.

Gomaa said that the court of appeal will decide on 30 June whether he or another judge will continue overseeing the trial. Last month he ordered its postponment after verbal clashes erupted between families of the martyrs and Adly’s lawyers.

Critics allege that Gomaa had ties with the former regime. During his tenure he issued rulings against opponents of Mubarak, such as the Egyptian-American human rights advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim and liberal opposition figure Ayman Nour.

“It’s a major setback not only for the judicial system but also for the revolution itself if we have judges like Gomaa, who are a focus of controversy, investigating the cases of members of the former regime,” said Zaghloul al-Balshy, vice chairman of the Court of Cassation.

In the first court session, held on 5 March, Adly, who began serving as interior minister in 1997, pleaded not guilty. Last month he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for money laundering and profiteering.

In early March, al-Sayyed Abdel-Aziz Omar, the chairman of the Cairo Appeals Court, decided to transfer the trials of Adly and other members of the former regime to the New Cairo Court. He said that proper security for such trials must be guaranteed.

“This is collusion from the military council in which they wanted to hold the trial in a place which is far from the people, but we came here despite the distance and our message is that we are here and will never be silent again,” said Dina Abdallah, a student present at the protest since the early morning.

On hearing of the court's decision, some members of the martyrs' families left weeping, while others chanted.

Ramadan Abdel Ghany Bayoumi, who was shot by police on 28 January, was present at the court with his lawyer. He said that the session was a farce.

“This is the second time this judge postponed the trial for silly reasons. Today, I wasn’t allowed to tell what happened to me, about the suffering that Adly caused me,” said Bayoumi.

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