Cairo court adjourns Al Jazeera journalists' trial

Defence closing arguments in much-delayed retrial of journalists to be made in sixth hearing on June 4.

    Both Mohamed, left, and Fahmy have strenuously rejected the charges levelled against them [AP]
    Both Mohamed, left, and Fahmy have strenuously rejected the charges levelled against them [AP]

    The much-delayed retrial for two Al Jazeera journalists has been further adjourned to June 4, when the defence will make their closing arguments.

    Monday's hearing was the fifth in the retrial of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy.

    Timeline: #FreeAJStaff

    Prosecutors have accused the two of "spreading false news" and having ties to former president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, charges which the journalists and Al Jazeera vigorously reject.

    Another Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, also faces the same charges but was deported back to his native Australia in February this year.

    Greste was told by the judge that he must appear for the retrial or he will be formally declared on trial in absentia. The judge called out his name in court on Monday.

    "That means I will automatically get a conviction if I don't appear, but of course I can't go back because President Sisi deported me, so I'm stuck in this legal limbo," Greste told Reuters news agency in an interview published on Friday.

    Sentenced in absentia

    Several other Al Jazeera journalists were also sentenced in absentia in the same case.

    Mohamed, Fahmy and Greste were arrested in December 2013 after a raid on the hotel room where they were staying and held for more than 400 days, during which they were convicted of the same charges.

    Interview: Peter Greste on the Al Jazeera retrial

    They were all sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison last year.

    However, Egypt's highest court has since ordered a retrial after it found procedural flaws in the initial case.

    Fahmy, who is a Canadian citizen, and Mohamed, an Egyptian, were released on bail on February 13.

    The trial attracted international condemnation, with world leader's - including US President Barack Obama - pressuring the Egyptian government to release the journalists.

    A social media campaign attracted tens of thousands of posts in support of the men with the hashtag #FreeAJStaff trending internationally.

    Egypt launched a crackdown on journalists it accused of sympathising with the Muslim Brotherhood and currently holds 12 journalists in its prisons, according the the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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