Legal expert lambasts Egypt’s 'kangaroo court'

Take note – story published 9 years ago

Leading human rights lawyer and expert on the Egyptian justice system Amal Alamuddin has strongly condemned the unjust ‘show trial’ of Al Jazeera English-language service journalists in a detailed legal opinion published by the Huffington Post Tuesday.

Alamuddin, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law, criminal law, human rights and extradition, notes that four successive governments in Egypt have used sham trials and questionable laws to silence media freedom and freedom of speech, with the Al Jazeera trial being a clear example of this.

She outlines the clear breaches of law and due process in the case of Mohamed Fahmy, whom she is personally representing in the trial, and his fellow team members Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed in her opinion piece ‘The Anatomy of an Unfair Trial’.

Greste possesses dual Latvian and Australian citizenship and Latvian authorities have co-ordinated efforts to win his release with their Australian counterparts.

“It is clear beyond doubt that their trial was unfair, and their conviction a travesty of justice,” Alamuddin states in the opening of her article.

“The story is completely fabricated. There was no Marriott "cell" -- the journalists simply worked from a hotel room. There was no plot -- the journalists had never even met the 14 alleged Brotherhood members they were charged with until they saw them in court on the first day of trial. There was no false reporting about chaos in Egypt -- there was plenty of chaos to report. But how, in the modern age, can a state put on such sham proceedings, open to the world, and get away with it? What logistics are involved in establishing a kangaroo court to silence critics? This trial provides a guide to how it's done,” Fahmy’s lawyer went on to argue.

“At trial, prosecutors proceeded with what can only be described as a surreal presentation of video footage painstakingly played for hours to the court. Most of the videos predated the timeframe on the indictment, came from unrelated TV channels and covered ordinary events. This included holiday snaps, horses galloping in a yard, a BBC program about the Westgate Mall terror attack and a report for CNN on Gaddafi's palaces,” she described the evidence presented to the court.

“Not a single digital or hard copy piece of evidence showed the journalists were in any way linked to the Brotherhood. Not a shred of evidence showed that any of the journalists gave the Brotherhood money or other material support. There was not even an allegation by the prosecution that any particular video played by Al Jazeera had been doctored, let alone proof that it was so,” Ms.Alamuddin pointed out.

She concludes, scathingly: “It is ironic that the main charge against the Al Jazeera journalists is that they sought to tarnish Egypt's image -- there is little that could tarnish it more than allowing such injustices to persist.”

Alamuddin is one of a number of high profile legal experts who have criticised the sentencing of the Al Jazeera journalists. Her clients include Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in his fight against extradition and the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko. In June 2013, she was part of a delegation from the International Bar Association formed to advise on reforming Egypt's judicial system and constitution.

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