Egypt court again delays Al Jazeera journalists’ trial

Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed’s retrial postponed for second time after prosecution witnesses fail to appear in court.

Fahmy and Mohamed
An Egyptian court on February 12 released Baher Mohamed (R) and Mohamed Fahmy, pending their retrial [EPA]

An Egyptian court has adjourned the trial of Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed after witnesses of the prosecution failed to appear in court. 

The court decision came after a brief hearing on Sunday. It set the date for the next trial to March 19.

Their first hearing on February 23 was also postponed – also because witnesses did not show up in court.

Fahmy and Mohamed were charged with aiding the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt deems a terrorist organisation.

Emerging from the court on Sunday, the two journalists expressed frustration at the delay of their trial.

“We come here and we respect the court,” Fahmy said. “But it’s very unusal that witnesses don’t come twice in a row, and I see it as an insult to the judiciary here. It’s really a legal limbo and we’re caught in it.”

Reacting to the latest adjournment in the case of its jailed journalists, an Al Jazeera spokesman said “the world continues to expect the release” of Fahmy and Mohamed.

“We’ve previously urged that the retrial process be swift, and wasted opportunities like today and the last hearing do not help towards that end.

“This case must now come to an end with Baher and Mohamed being fully exonerated and reunited with their families. Journalism is not a crime.”

A court last month released Fahmy, a naturalised Canadian who gave up his Egyptian citizenship, and Egyptian Mohamed, on bail after over 400 days in detention.

They were also ordered to check with the police daily. 

A third Al Jazeera journalist, Australian Peter Greste, was deported earlier in February.