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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 17:58 GMT
Trial of Britons in Egypt delayed
Reza Pankhurst, Maajid Nawaz, Ian Nisbet
Pankhurst, Nawaz and Nisbet claim they were tortured
The trial of three Britons accused of promoting an illegal Islamic group in Egypt has been delayed for a further two weeks.

Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst from the London area and Maajid Nawaz from Westcliff, Essex, were arrested last April and are standing trial with 23 Egyptians.

They have been in prison since April last year and their families in Britain are becoming increasingly frustrated with the repeated delays to the trial.

While Mr Nisbet's parents from Brackley, Northamptonshire, have described the charges against him as "ludicrous".

The men, who are all in their 20s and standing trial with 23 Egyptians, claim they were variously tortured with electric shocks, deprived of sleep, and denied access to lawyers while in jail.

'Quite depressing'

Their trial resumed in Cairo's State Security Court on Saturday after a long interruption for a panel of experts to assess whether books found on Mr Pankhurst and Mr Nawaz were incriminating.

But Mr Pankhurst's wife, Hodan, said that the panel's report - part of the prosecution case - had still not been handed to the court.

"It's quite depressing," she said. "It's disappointing to hear that it's been delayed again when the books have been in the possession of the prosecution since the first of April last year."

Mrs Pankhurst said the judge had ordered the prosecutors to hand in the full report by 29 March, when the trial was set to start again.

The case began in October, but was adjourned during the Muslim month of Ramadan, and then again for another seven weeks for the books to be assessed.

British concerns unanswered

The men claim they were tortured and forced to sign confessions in Arabic which they could not read.

The British Ambassador, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and other ministers have repeatedly raised their concerns over the delays and torture claims with the Egyptian authorities.

British officials have said the Egyptian report into the allegations left their concerns unanswered.

Mr Nisbet and Mr Pankhurst were in Egypt working as computer consultants, while Mr Nawaz was studying Arabic and law as an undergraduate at Alexandria University.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, the group which the men are accused of promoting, is legal in the UK but is outlawed in Egypt following an attempted coup in 1974.

Fears for Egypt trial Briton
23 Dec 02 |  England
Britons 'tortured' in Egypt
20 Oct 02 |  England

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