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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 12:29 GMT
Egypt trial Britons' case could collapse
Ian Nisbet
Nisbet and the other Britons said they were beaten
Three Britons on trial in Egypt accused of aiming to overthrow the state could see the case against them dropped, their lawyer has said.

The trial of the three men, all from London, is due to re-open in Cairo's State Security Court on Saturday after a long adjournment for Ramadan.

At the last hearing in October, Judge Ahmed el-Ashmawi reportedly warned the prosecution to improve its case against the men, accused with 23 others of trying to revive the banned Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The Britons, Ian Nisbet, 28, Reza Pankhurst, 27, and Maajid Nawaz, 26, have claimed they were tortured and maltreated while in prison and forced to sign confessions under duress.

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

Reza Pankhurst

The three men, who all deny the charges against them, face up to 25 years imprisonment if convicted.

But Sadiq Khan, the lawyer for the men, said he was hopeful the case against them would collapse.

"We are not optimistic at how the Egyptian justice system works, but the judge may have realised that there's something fishy going on," he said.

The trio were accused of possessing banned books and computer equipment, but the books were available in any Cairo bookstore and Mr Nisbet and Mr Pankhurst were computer consultants, the lawyer said.

Maajid Nawaz
Maajid Nawaz is a student

The men met the British Ambassador for the first time on Wednesday and UK officials were due raise their concerns over the Egyptian authorities' response to the torture allegations, according to the Foreign Office.

Mr Pankhurst described his alleged ordeal in prison when the men first appeared in court accused of belonging to the Islamic group banned in Egypt following an attempted coup in 1974.

"I was stripped naked, they beat me, they threatened me with sexual abuse... they tortured me with electricity multiple times and we were all deprived of sleep," he said.

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  ON THIS STORY
  BBC London's Kurt Barling
"The parents hope more diplomatic pressure will mean their sons don't have to suffer a long trial"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

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