June 17, 2006

14 Egyptians on trial for 2005 Cairo bombings

CAIRO (Reuters) - Fourteen Egyptians went on trial on
Saturday on charges connected with two bombings which targeted
tourists in the capital Cairo in April 2005.

An American, two French people and the bomber were killed
in the first attack in the bazaar area of the old city. In a
second bombing near the Egyptian museum three weeks later,
seven people were wounded and the bomber was killed.

The defendants all denied charges that they helped the
bombers, either by providing money, reconnoitring targets or
collecting materials to make the explosives.

Other charges include forming an illegal group based on the
ideology of declaring the ruler to be an infidel and
legitimizing rebellion against the government.

Several said they had been tortured in detention by State
Security investigators to obtain false confessions and had been
denied family visits through more than one year in custody.

They include two women who are out of jail on bail and
three young men whom the defense said were under 18 years old.

A member of their volunteer defense team, lawyer Mukhtar
Nouh, said the Interior Ministry had framed the defendants
because it could not identify the real culprits and wanted to
improve its image among the public.

The court gave the defendants permission to receive
visitors in prison, ordered medical reports and asked the
authorities to seek out the birth certificates of the three
alleged minors. It then postponed the next hearing in the case
until October 21.

At the time of the bombings, police said they were the work
of a small group of religious extremists based in the Nile
valley. They have blamed a separate group of Sinai bedouin for
three big bombings which have killed more than 115 people on
the east coast of Sinai since October 2004.