The trial of Ahmed Al-Gizawy, and Egyptian Lawyer charged with drug trafficking, resumed Wednesday at the General Court in Jeddah only to be postponed until 2 January.
Gizawy has been in Saudi jail since his arrest in April at King Abdulaziz International Airport on his way to perform Umrah (minor pilgrimage). Saudi authorities alleged he was in possession of roughly 21,000 Xanax anti-anxiety pills which are illegal in Saudi Arabia.
During Wednesday’s session, the legal advisor of Egypt’s consulate in Jeddah Yasser Alwani revealed for the first time that the packets of milk in which the drugs were allegedly found had a production date of 20 April, 2012. Al-Gizawy was arrested on 17 April; three days before the milk packets were produced. Alwani is currently providing legal counsel to Al-Gizawy, who is defending himself in court.
The trial was postponed to acquire the general prosecution’s response. Al-Gizawy’s sister Shereen stated that the postponement violated Saudi laws.
“Saudi laws state that the defendant is the last to testify; the prosecution isn’t allowed rebuttals,” she said. “Asking for a one-week postponement makes me suspicious that they want to fabricate new charges.” She added that the verdict was expected to come out Wednesday.
Al-Gizawy had previously claimed that he had been tortured during his interrogation and detention, but the presiding judge determined there was no evidence to support his allegations.
According to his sister, Al-Gizawy was also forced to watch prisoner executions. She states that activists tried to visit him in jail last week only to be told by authorities that he was viewing executions. “The jailers tell him ‘watch what shall become your fate,’” she said. According to Saudi law, drug-trafficking can amount to being punishable by execution.
Al-Gizawy had previously worked to improve conditions for Egyptians living and working in Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups have pointed at his activist track record as political motivation for the Saudi Arabian government to detain him.
Additional reporting by Basil El-Dabh