Al Jazeera journalists’ final verdict postponed in Egypt

Court postpones final decision in retrial of Al Jazeera journalists for second time to August 29

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Al Jazeera journalists from left Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed stand behind bars at a court in Cairo in 2014

Egyptian court has announced on Sunday to  postponed the retrial of the Al Jazeera (AJ)  journalists  for the second time, who have been accused of supporting a militant organisation in the country, to August 29.

The previous retrial that was set for last Tuesday had been postponed to Sunday to reach a final decision, however, it’s being postponed for a second time.  

Al Jazeera journalists, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian Baher Mohamed and Australian Peter Greste were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in June 2014 for allegedly aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The convictions given to the AJ staff, including the charge of spreading false news, were all overturned on appeal and they were released on bail, in February.

Egypt's Court of Cassation ruled that the original court had been "hasty in pronouncing its verdict" on January 1 and prosecutors failed to present conclusive evidence that the defendants had helped the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The third Al Jazeera journalist, Greste was deported to Australia in February and is being retried in absentia, while Baher and Fahmy remain in Egypt. Fahmy had to give up his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year to qualify to be deported as Greste was. However, after receiving a temporary Canadian passport at the end of April, he chose to remain in Egypt.

Human rights groups and some Western governments condemned the trail for the journalists and urged the United Nations to investigate the judicial independence of Egypt.

During a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri rejected the criticisms, saying "no journalists are imprisoned in Egypt because of their reporting."

The country has been battling an armed insurgency in the Sinai since the country’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi was deposed in a military coup in July 2013, which has seen hundreds of police and army officials killed.

Morsi was forced to step down following a military coup and a crackdown on his supporters, including the bloody dispersal of sit-in protests at Cairo’s Rabaa and Nahda Squares which saw around 900 Muslim Brotherhood supporters killed.

Since then hundreds of Morsi supporters have been given death penalties or jail terms following often speedy mass trials.

Deposed president Mohamed Morsi is among those condemned to die.

TRTWorld and agencies