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World News

Coptic Christian activist's detention extended for a second time

A leading Coptic Christian activist who is facing terror charges in Egypt has had his detention extended after a scheduled court hearing was postponed for a second time. 

Despite having a court hearing scheduled for 19th January, after several hours of delay, Rami Kamil’s lawyers were informed that the Ministry of Interior was simply unable to facilitate his transfer to the court. 

Mr Kamil was arrested during a police raid in Cairo during the early hours of 23rd November 2019 and has been in custody ever since.

Though authorities insist that Rami has been involved in a series of unlawful activities, his supporters believe that he is being persecuted for exposing a plethora of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Egyptian state. Kamil is a founding member and the coordinator of a Coptic human rights group called the 'Maspero Youth Union', which was formed following the Maspero massacre of October 2011 in which over 20 peaceful Coptic protesters were killed by the Egyptian military. 

Rami has been charged with receiving foreign funding, disturbing public order, inciting the public against the state, and using social media to incite sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians. However, as Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) noted in a press release, Kamil’s case has been riddled with “procedural irregularities.” 

CSW explained: “In January, Mr Kamil’s detention was extended by a further 15 days after he was interrogated by prosecutors in prison. Mr Kamil’s lawyers were verbally and informally notified that his detention had been extended for the second time, despite the fact he has still not been formally charged or tried.

“Furthermore, the SSSP continues to prevent Mr Kamil’s lawyers from having full access to the documents related to his case. Their request for Mr Kamil’s release remains unanswered by the authorities.”

There is currently no indication of when Mr Kamil’s next hearing will take place.

In response to the latest developments, CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said: “Mr Kamil’s detention increasingly appears to be an effort to punish him for his work as a human rights defender. We call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for due process to be observed. Mr Kamil’s lawyers must be permitted to access every document and testimony related to this case in order to mount an appropriate defence. The Egyptian government must ensure that it upholds its constitutional obligation under article 53 to ensure equality before the law without discrimination.”

As Premier Christian previously reported, the arrest took place just a few days after Mr Kamil accompanied the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, on a fact-finding visit to Cairo and Minya to investigate the situation of members of the Coptic community who had been displaced from their homes following sectarian incidents.

According to CSW, following his arrest, Mr Kamil was whisked away to an unknown location where he endured intensive interrogation and was subjected to undue physical and psychological pressure.

 

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