Qasr Al-Nil Misdemeanours Appeal Court postponed on Sunday the first appeal session to drop the two-year imprisonment verdict against the head of the Press Syndicate and two of his colleagues to 14 January.
The court’s decision came after the prosecution requested postponing the case until it prepares its report for the appeal. Thus, the court postponed the appeal to hear the prosecution’s argument, and to implement the demands of the syndicate leader’s defence team.
In November, the court sentenced the head of the Press Syndicate Yehia Qalash, secretary general Gamal Abdul Reheem, and head of the Freedoms Committee Khaled El-Balshy to two years in prison on bail of EGP 10,000 for each defendant. They were accused of harbouring wanted journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud Al-Saqa in the syndicate; however, the defendants claimed no arrest warrants were issued against them.
The Press Syndicate leaders’ defence team made certain demands for the next session, which included summoning journalists Badr and Al-Saqa to give their testimonies, to review the prosecution report on what had happened in their case so far, as well as reviewing other documents.
“This decision is not in our interest, as this means we will still face imprisonment. We wanted the case to be resolved as so soon as possible,” Abdul Reheem told Daily News Egypt.
The defence team was ready with all the documents and was well prepared for the appeal session, but we were surprised by the court’s decision, he added.
Abdul Reheem described the court’s decision as “strange”, saying that usually the court decides on the postponement of a case, not the prosecution.
The three leaders believe that the decision was not in their interest, and will hinder the path of their appeal through which they hope to be acquitted.
Badr and Al-Saqa were arrested after security forces stormed the syndicate on 1 May to arrest them, as they had launched a sit-in in front of the Press Syndicate headquarters in late April in opposition to security raids on their private residences.
Both journalists were later released after several renewal detention sessions; however, the syndicate leaders faced imprisonment verdicts. Badr and Al-Saqa were wanted in the case known as the “Red Sea islands case”, as they were accused of publishing false information.
The syndicate leaders had been previously summoned by the prosecution following the storming to provide their testimonies in the case, but were released on the same day on bail of EGP 10,000.