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Sunday, 20 October, 2002, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Egypt Islamist trial hears torture claims
Ian Nisbet
Nisbet and the other Britons said they were beaten
Three British Muslims on trial in Egypt accused of trying to overthrow the Egyptian Government have said they were beaten and tortured in prison.

The men, from London, appeared in court in Cairo along with 23 Egyptian nationals, all of whom are accused of belonging to an illegal Islamist group, the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir).


I was stripped naked, they beat me, they threatened me with sexual abuse

Reza Pankhurst, defendant
Ian Nisbet, 28, from east London, Reza Pankhurst, 27, and Maajid Nawaz, 26, a student at London's School of Oriental and African Studies, face up to 25 years in prison with hard labour if convicted.

The case has been criticised by the human rights group Amnesty International, which says the authorities have failed to investigate allegations that the men have been tortured and ill-treated.

The men were arrested in April and have been held under emergency laws introduced after President Anwar Sadat's assassination at the hands of Islamic militants in 1981.

'Stripped and beaten'

The three Britons came into court holding copies of the Koran and shouting "Allah Akbar".

Reza Pankhurst
Reza Pankhurst was working for an internet company in Egypt

Speaking through the iron grille of the dock in the crowded court, the men told relatives and reporters that they were tortured, deprived of sleep and only allowed to see lawyers after nearly two months in custody.

"I was stripped naked, they beat me, they threatened me with sexual abuse," said Mr Pankhurst.

"They tortured me with electricity multiple times and we were all deprived of sleep."

The men said they were also forced to watch other prisoners being beaten.

Human rights fears

Amnesty International called the allegations of torture "deeply worrying".

"Our concerns have grown following the apparent intransigence of the Egyptian authorities who are refusing to allow independent medical examinations of the men," the organisation said.

The UK Government said it had arranged legal representation for the men.

"We have done our best to ensure that the facilities are in place for proper interpreting so the defendants can understand what's happening," said John Sawers, British ambassador to Egypt.

"They have full access to lawyers and we have had good consular access," he said."

The Islamic Liberation Party emerged in Jordan in the early 1970s and seeks to restore the caliphate - or one Islamic government for all Islamic states - through military coups across the region.

It is banned in most Middle Eastern countries.


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See also:

18 Oct 02 | England
17 Oct 02 | England
04 Oct 02 | England
05 Aug 02 | World at One
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