On Saturday June 1st, Egyptian courts adjourned on the trial of 33 defendants for their involvement in the violence that took place in the town of Al-Khosous, north of Cairo, last April. The violence claimed the lives of seven people, and later sparked further sectarian violence. The trial will resume July 6, 2013.
The case was postponed to hear witnesses for the prosecution and the judge refused the defense’s request to release the defendants on bail.
The public prosecution has accused the defendants of murder, illegal possession of weapons, damage to public and private property, inciting panic and possessing Molotov cocktails.
Though the case is being tried by the Banha Criminal Court, the trial was moved to New Cairo Criminal Court in an attempt to ensure the safety of the accused.
The sectarian violence in Al-Khosous broke out between two families, who happen to be Muslim and Christian in Al-Khosous, north of Cairo after Christian children allegedly painted offensive drawings on the wall of an Islamic institute.
The defense lawyers and relatives of the defendants argue that they are innocent, demanding the formation of a new fact-finding committee.
SOUNDBITE 1 (Arabic) – Mohamed Ghareeb, defense lawyer of number of the defendants:
“We would like to say that the state security apparatus still has the same policies like the former regime and they still arrested people from their homes. The defendants were arrested after four or five days of the incident. They do not have any relations with the clashes and they found nothing with them. We ask God to reveal the truth. God willing, they will be announced innocent soon.”
SOUNDBITE 2 (Arabic) – Brother of one of the defendants:
“We hope that the authorities form a new fact-finding committee to discover the truth and I accept that my brother being tried if they proved that he is not innocent. There must be a transparency in the investigations.”
The clashes resulted in the killing of a Christian by a Muslim, prompting some Muslim residents to seek retribution. The violence resulted in the deaths of six Christians and one Muslim.
The funeral for four of the Christians was held at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral two days after the violence in Al-Khosous broke out. Following the funeral, unidentified men attacked mourners outside the cathedral, which prompted rock throwing. Some eyewitnesses reported gunshots.
On the other hand, earlier on Thursday north Cairo court ordered the release of seven people who had been arrested for suspected involvement in clashes outside St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.
The suspects have been released from police custody with bail set at LE 2000 each. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed the release order.