Battle of the Camel trial adjourned to 12 May

The trial of suspects accused of inciting the killing of peaceful protesters on 2 and 3 February last year during events known as the “Battle of the Camel” was postponed to 12 May to examine evidence.

One of the prosecuting witnesses gave a testimony that would exonerate rather than indict suspects Ragab Helal Hemeida and Talaat al-Qawwas, both former MPs.

Twenty-four defendants are accused in the case, including Fathi Sorour, former People’s Assembly speaker; Safwat al-Sherif, former Shura Council speaker; Aisha Abdel Hady, former manpower minister; and Hussein Megawer, former Egyptian Trade Union Federation president.

All face charges of inciting the killing of peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square during the demonstrations that forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

All suspects were present for the trial except Mortada Mansour, his son Ahmed and his nephew Waheed, even though a court ordered them to be summoned for the session. None of their defense lawyers were present either.

Mansour ­ — who had requested that the judge be replaced, which the court will consider on 14 April — did not show up for the last three court sessions. He applied Sunday to run in the presidential elections.

The court heard the testimony of Ali Abdel Gaber, a retired government employee who said he lives in the Cairo district of Abdeen. Abdel Gaber said he had asked the suspects, who were MPs for the same district, to help him and his brother get jobs but that they did not help.

He said he used to join the protests in Tahrir from morning until night. He said he saw Qawwas in Tahrir on 2 February and that he was not surrounded by protesters or supporters. He did not see Hemeida that day.

Asked if he saw the camel riders who stormed into Tahrir, Abdel Gaber said he was standing at the entry to Qasr al-Nil Street and saw them coming from the direction of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir. He said there were around 70-100 thugs and that some of them carried clubs, knives, chains and other weapons. They hit the protesters in their legs with swords, he added.

The judge interrupted Abdel Gaber to ask if a camel rider who is high above the ground could have hit protesters walking on foot. The witness corrected himself, saying the camel riders hit protesters on their backs.

One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers accused the witness of perjury, saying his testimony was different from the one he gave during investigations.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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