Retrial of Al-Jazeera reporters opens in Egypt
CAIRO (AP) The retrial of two Al-Jazeera English journalists still held in Egypt for more than a year over terror-related charges began Thursday, as hopes run high for a resolution of the case that has drawn wide international criticism.
The proceedings come less than two weeks after the deportation of the reporters' Australian colleague, Peter Greste, who was held with the two remaining defendants Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed. The three initially were sentenced to at least seven years before a retrial was ordered.
The pair were in court behind a soundproof glass cage for the first time a recent feature in Egyptian courts, as authorities seek to limit the ability of defendants to protest or interrupt proceedings. The judge controls when the defendants can be heard through a microphone, and families and lawyers complained that it was hard to see the defendants inside the courtroom cage.
Greste was freed following a new decree granting Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi the power to deport foreigners.
Many expect the Cairo Criminal Court to release Fahmy, who dropped his Egyptian citizenship to be eligible for deportation. However, the fate of Mohammed, who only holds Egyptian citizenship, remains murky. Fahmy's lawyers on Thursday also appealed for his release on medical grounds, saying he suffers from Hepatitis C, and can't receive proper treatment in prison.
"Strange feeling to watch my cell mates and brothers Fahmy & Baher in court from the outside. My heart is in the cage with them," Greste tweeted before the session began.