Judge Salah Roshdy, the head of the terrorism division of Cairo Criminal Court, listened Sunday to the last defence claims in the case involving photojournalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada and over 70 Al-Azhar University students facing protest charges and accused of setting fire to the Faculty of Commerce in December 2013.
The verdict in the case is set to be issued on 29 April, and the defendants are to remain in prison in the meantime.
In the previous sessions, defence lawyers argued that the defendants had nothing to do with the case because they have not been present in the incidents and were arrested at random throughout the day.
The defendants seemed active, although it was hard to see them through the glass cage in court, but their voices could be heard speaking or cheering. When the court suspended the trial before returning with the decision, the defendants’ voices got louder, after one of the lawyers raised a piece of paper to them.
The paper read “you got engaged to your cousin”, aimed at one of the defendants, and was followed by his colleagues congratulating him.
The defence supported its arguments using the conflicting statements provided by Nasr City Police Station officers and the prosecution authorities’ officers, whose testimonies were unclear regarding the development of the incidents.
As for Ziada, who is the only journalist involved in the case, defence lawyer Mokhtar Mounir presented all evidence that he had been assigned to cover the incidents on that day, and that he had nothing to do with any protests.
Members of the Press Syndicate had attended the last trial session on 1 April, and member of the syndicate’s council Mahmoud Kamel obtained an approval from the judge to speak to Ziada after the session. Nonetheless, security officers at the Tora Police Institute refused the meeting.