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 Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 23:13 GMT
Britons' lawyer attacks 'trivial' case
Reza Pankhurst, Maajid Nawaz and Ian Nisbet
Britons Reza Pankhurst, Maajid Nawaz and Ian Nisbet
The lawyer representing three Britons accused of promoting an illegal Islamic group in Egypt has attacked the prosecution case against them as "trivial" and "irrelevant".

Sadiq Khan, representing Ian Nisbet, Reza Pankhurst and Maajid Nawaz, said books included in the evidence could all be found in public libraries.

Christmas is a family time for Muslims as well and it is difficult for the whole family, especially the children

Sadiq Khan,
defendants' lawyer
"Nothing that was in their possession is not easily available," he told the court in Cairo.

"For example all the books can be borrowed from Cairo public library."

The defendants are accused of promoting the goals of Hizb-ut-Tahrir or the Islamic Liberation Party - a group which is banned in many Middle Eastern countries.

But Mr Khan said: "So far the evidence against them has been trivial and irrelevant."

Office ransacked

The three Britons, all in their 20s and originally from London, are being tried at Cairo's State Court after being arrested in April.

Appearing alongside 23 Egyptian nationals, both Mr Nawaz and Mr Pankhurst are also accused of possessing and distributing printed literature which "promoted Hizb-ut-Tahrir's message".

Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan wants to question guards over torture claims
Mr Pankhurst faces a third charge of possessing a computer used for "propagating" the group's ideology.

Mr Khan said he was expecting a computer containing e-versions of the books, also easily available, to be produced as evidence.

"Mr Reza Pankhurst had upon his arrest his business office ransacked and kept as evidence by state security," he said.

"Yet none of the eight computers seized have been presented as evidence."

Mr Khan is also awaiting further medical evidence on a third Egyptian national who was allegedly tortured so badly that he was left on crutches.

Charges against this man were later dropped.

Torture claims

The lawyer said the trial was becoming "increasingly sinister" and complained that the Egyptian court was not yet providing a proper translation service from Egyptian Arabic to English for his clients.

He said the families of the defendants were suffering particularly over Christmas.

The lawyer said: "Christmas is a family time for Muslims as well and it is difficult for the whole family, especially the children."

Mr Khan expects the trial to resume on Sunday with live evidence from state security guards the British men accuse of torturing them while in confinement.

The three men have claimed they were tortured and forced to sign confessions while in custody.

Mr Khan said: "This will give us an opportunity to question those men responsible for the treatment of the boys.

"Unfortunately, as all the boys were blindfolded when they were being mistreated and tortured they are unable to identify who did what."

Egyptian authorities blame Hizb ut-Tahrir for an attempted coup in 1974 and involvement in terrorist operations.


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See also:

23 Dec 02 | England
21 Dec 02 | England
20 Oct 02 | England
18 Oct 02 | England
17 Oct 02 | England
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