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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 1 April, 2003, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Family protest over Egypt trial Britons

The families of three Britons being held in Egypt for allegedly promoting a banned Islamic group have staged a protest in London on Tuesday, the first anniversary of their arrest.

Relatives and friends of Ian Nisbet, Reza Pankhurst and Maajid Nawaz gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy in London for a day-long demonstration.

Nisbet and Pankhurst, both from London, and Nawaz, from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, have been accused along with 23 Egyptians of promoting Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party), which is banned in Egypt.

They are accused of promoting the group in speech and writing, and Mr Nawaz and Mr Pankhurst are also accused of distributing printed material.

The three Britons have claimed they have been tortured and mistreated since they were arrested. They also claim they have been forced to make and sign false confessions since being arrested in April last year.

'Another blow'

The trial of three UK men accused of promoting an illegal Islamic group in Egypt was opened on Saturday after long delays.

Ian Nisbet's father Alistair, 60, said: "We have just heard about 10 minutes ago that their trial is going to be postponed again until 19 April, which is another blow.

Reza Pankhurst, Maajid Nawaz, Ian Nisbet
Mr Pankhurst, Mr Nawaz and Mr Nisbet claim they were tortured

"We don't think much of the country's justice system. They were threatened when arrested and the Egyptian Government refused to tell the British Consul that they were in custody which is contrary to international agreements," he claimed.

"We haven't had any telephone calls at all from him. We want the Egyptians to finish the case and release the lad," he said.

Mr Nisbet said he wanted the British to threaten to cut off European Union aid to Egypt if they did not release the trio.

He said there had been conflicting reports of what sentence the men could face if found guilty. They could face from three to 15 years in jail if convicted, he said.

'Pathetic'

Mr Nawaz's wife Rabia, 24, said: We want them released immediately, enough is enough.

"We were told by the Foreign Office to wait to see the evidence, but now we've seen it it's pathetic. It proves they're innocent."

A fourth Briton, 23-year-old Hassan Rizbi, from Mitcham, south London, was also arrested with the other three a year ago.

He was released after four months and was also at Tuesday's demonstration.

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.




SEE ALSO:
Britons' trial in Egypt begins
29 Mar 03  |  England
Trial of Britons in Egypt delayed
15 Mar 03  |  England
Fears for Egypt trial Briton
23 Dec 02  |  England
Egypt trial Britons' case resumes
21 Dec 02  |  England
Britons 'tortured' in Egypt
20 Oct 02  |  England


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