Head of the Doctors Syndicate Freedoms Committee Taher Mokhtar and two co-defendants have spent more than 150 days in pre-trial detention without being referred to any court. They will complete the legal duration of pre-trial detention on 15 July. Appeals against their detention were either rejected or neglected by judicial authorities.
Due to the detainees’ worsening conditions, several NGOs released a statement on Tuesday demanding the immediate release of the three detainees and for all charges against them to be dropped, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
In accordance with Article 134 of the Criminal Regulation Law, detainees can face a pre-trial detention period of six months, before receiving a release order or being referred to court. This means that the destiny of Mokhtar and his flatmates should be decided soon.
Mokhtar and his two roommates, NGO worker Ahmed Hassan and student Hossam Hamad, are not the only detainees about to exceed their pre-trial detention period. Several others are facing the same situation, including photojournalist Mahmoud Abou-Zeid, known as Shawkan, who has exceeded over 1,000 days in remand. Lawyers and human rights defenders continuously attempt to limit the pre-trail detention period of defendants.
In their statement, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, and other NGOs described the extension of pre-trial detention periods as a ”violation against law”.
Regarding the condition of the three detainees, the statement reported that throughout the past six months, they had been subjected to disciplinary actions and harassment. It also stated that the main reason for their imprisonment was Mokhtar’s active role and syndicate-related work in fighting the state’s violations against prisoner’s health.
Mokhtar played an important role in improving the conditions of detainees inside prisons, by advocating for their health and the prevention of disease and death.
”All the violations committed by the state in the past three years indicate the return of the security apparatus that largely runs the country,” the statement said.
The three detainees were arrested in their apartment in Downtown Cairo on 14 January, during security raids that were conducted ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution.
Upon their arrest, they were escorted to Abdeen police station, where they were investigated for around nine hours without a lawyer. On the following day, they were referred to the Abdeen prosecution, where Mokhtar was charged with possessing pamphlets calling for the overthrow of the regime. Security forces had found a pamphlet on the health condition of detainees during their inspection of his home.
The Doctors Syndicate had told the investigator of the case that the pamphlet was part of a campaign launched by the syndicate to address medical negligence in prisons, confirming that Mokhtar was assigned by the syndicate to follow up on the issue.
Nevertheless, the prosecution continued to renew their detention.
In recent years, the state has been using pre-trial detention as an alternative punishment against activists and opposition groups, according to the NGO statement.