NEWS

Mohamed Fahmy's retrial in Egypt adjourned until March 8

02/23/2015 04:12 EST | Updated 04/24/2015 05:59 EDT
The retrial of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed has been adjourned until March 8, bringing more uncertainty and confusion to the case that has seen Fahmy spend more than 400 days in prison.

Fahmy arrived for the retrial shortly after 9 a.m. in Cairo, in his first return to court since being released on bail Feb. 12. He was flanked by fiancée, Marwa Omara and his lawyer, Khaled Abu Bakr.

But two witnesses scheduled to appear were no-shows.

"It's another circus of a retrial," said Fahmy,wearing a dark suit and sunglasses. "We have an adjournment. The least you can do is bring the witnesses."

- EXCLUSIVE | Mohamed Fahmy calls on Stephen Harper to push Egypt on deportation

The second trial was ordered after an Egyptian appeals court threw out the case, after Fahmy had been sentenced to seven years in prison on terrorism charges. 

Fahmy, 31, was told he would have to spend the hearing in the prisoner's box — essentially a courtroom cage —  but there was confusion at the beginning of the hearing, and Fahmy was called out and spent a couple of minutes facing the judge as it was determined the witnesses were not present.

"It’s very frustrating for me because I don’t have my full freedom," Fahmy said after the court was adjourned. "I still have to sign in at the police station every day and it just doesn’t make any sense."

Fahmy calls again for Harper's help

Fahmy, who shook hands with Canadian ambassador to Egypt Troy Lulashnyk in court, said he met with the ambassador and Egyptian officials, who gave him assurances that they would push for this case to be dealt with quickly. He said to CBC's Derek Stoffel that he and his lawyers believe deportation to Canada is still an option.

"Our government of Canada has been very responsive lately," Fahmy said. "[Lulashnyk] has been engaging directly with the prosecutor and there’s been better response. However, I again repeat my call to [Canadian] Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper to exert more pressure and have direct request to President [Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi] to deport me, especially since Canada and Egypt have friendly relations."

Can't see on mobile? See Fahmy arriving for court on Twitter here

Fahmy said he still has no contact with anyone from the Prime Minister's Office or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa. He said that he's spoken with opposition MPs about his case.

Fahmy and Al-Jazeera colleague Mohamed, both arrested in December 2013, face charges of being part of a terrorist group and airing falsified footage intended to damage Egyptian national security.

Another colleague arrested with them, Australian Peter Greste, was deported to Australia on Feb. 1 under a new law allowing foreigners accused of crimes to be deported.

Fahmy dropped Egyptian citizenship

Fahmy, a dual Egyptian-Canadian national, dropped his Egyptian citizenship after he said security officials told him it was the only way he would benefit from the new law.

Egypt's Court of Cassation, the country's highest appeals court, ordered the retrial, saying the initial proceedings were marred by violations of the defendants' rights. 

Eleven other defendants — mostly students accused of being Muslim Brotherhood members — previously were ordered released without bail.

Since being released on bail, Fahmy, 40, has criticized Al-Jazeera, saying its "epic negligence has made our situation harder, more difficult, and gave our captor more firepower."

The same court and same judge sentenced a prominent activist to five years in jail on Monday for violating 
a law that seeks to curtail demonstrations.
 
After the verdict was read out, chants of "down, down with  military rule" rang out from supporters of Alaa Abdel El-Fattah crowded into the courtroom.

CBC's Sasa Petricic said the five-year sentence is considered harsh by Egyptian standards — a decision he said doesn't bode well for Fahmy.
 

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