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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 19:37 GMT
Date set for Egypt trial verdict
Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour
Mr Nour said he had been on hunger strike for 48 hours
The trial of Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour has been adjourned until 24 December, when the judge will deliver his verdict.

Mr Nour, who was second in September's presidential poll, will remain in detention until then.

He faces charges of forging petition signatures to register his Ghad party with the authorities last year.

He denies the charges and has said they are politically motivated. The US says it is watching the trial closely.

At one point on Wednesday, the judge briefly left the courtroom in protest after lawyers on both sides shouted insults at each other, reports say.

Judge Abdel Salam Gomaa stood up from his chair and said he was leaving, as security officers and police tried to silence the courtroom, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The walkout was prompted by lawyer Ahmed Gomaa, defending one of the five other accused, who accused Mr Nour of acting on orders from the US.

Mr Nour told the court that he had been on hunger strike for the past 48 hours in protest at his treatment in prison.

"My detention is a form of terrorism, it's persecution," he said, quoted by the Agence France Presse news agency.

"They are treating me like a prisoner, not a detainee."

Testimony withdrawn

Mr Nour gained prominence when he formed his party in October 2004. It soon became the largest opposition party in the People's Assembly, with six deputies.

He was arrested in January and was detained for six weeks without charge until his release on bail. He was jailed again by the courts last week.

A co-defendant in the trial, Ayman Ismail, had admitted forging documents for Mr Nour - but he has since withdrawn his testimony, saying the confession was forced out of him with threats against his family.

If Mr Nour is convicted he could face up to 15 years in prison.


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