Naga Hammadi trial postponed until 17 October

The Supreme Criminal State Security Court in Qena has postponed the trial of four suspects are accused of killing seven Egyptians and injuring another nine in the city of Naga Hammadi on Christmas eve 2010. 

The four suspects,  Mohamed Ahmed Hassan, Hamam al-Kamouni, Irshi al-Hagag and Handawi al-Sayyid, are accused of the deadly drive-by shooting which killed six Christians and a Muslim, right after Christmas mess.  

The trial has been postponed until 17 October in order that testimony can be heard from Bishop Kirollos of Naga Hammadi, and Colonel Abdel Hameed al-Alaki, chief of Naga Hammadi police station. The accused will remain in custody while the delay will also allow further time for the examination of evidence from the police files.

The decision was taken by a committee made up of Judges Mahmoud Abdel Salam, Maoud Mohamed, Ashraf Abdel Moteleb, Abdel Lateef al-Bareeri and Atef Mohmed, in the presence of the Chief Prosecutor, Ahmed Abdel Baqi.

The session began amid intense security around the entrances and exits, as the court listened to pleas from the defense counsel on behalf of the accused.  Osama al-Qadi, defense attorney for the third suspect, al-Sayyid, requested that Bishop Kirollos be called in order for the court to hear his testimony, and also called for the bishop to be prevented from traveling, to have his tenure made temporary, and to be compelled to attend the court, after failing to turn up for the fourth time, despite receiving a court summons and without any explanation as to his absence.  He also requested that the chief of police and the chief medical officers should be summoned and that the defense should be able to examine the crime scene.

The defense attorney of the first suspect, al-Kamouni, also requested that the chief medical examiners and the chief of police should be summoned to present their testimony.  He also called for the attendance of the other defendants’ lawyers at the next session.

Also notable by their absence were the families of the accused, and of the victims and well as any large media presence.  The court permitted journalists to attend only during the announcement of the decision, after which the accused were returned to their prisons in armored vehicles.

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