Watani approached the international lawyer Awad Shafiq, who is among the defence team of Girgis and among the lawyers representing the victims of Nag Hammadi, for first-hand details on the matter.
The defence team of Girgis who is being tried before Qena criminal court, Mr Shafiq said, had requested that the trial be seen before a judge other than the currently presiding one Mahmoud Abdel-Salam. The defence team claim the judge has deprived them and their client of the legal right to meet with the defendant alone. It also rejected their request to move to the scene of the alleged rape which, they claim, is a busy thoroughfare on which a rape crime can never go unnoticed. The judge overruled the defence team’s demand to hold a confrontation between Girgis and the girl whose story, and the testimony of her parents, about the alleged rape has change several times and involved countless inconsistencies.
The lawyers protest the fact that Abdel-Salam deprived them of the right to attend the private hearing held with the girl. The move, they claim, is highly irregular. As for the final, and major, reason for which they demand a different judge, Mr Shafiq explained, is that Abdel-Salam is himself the same judge presiding over the trial of the three suspects of the Nag Hammadi shooting incident, which casts doubts over his impartiality. The rape crime has been widely claimed by the media and by officials to justify the Nag Hammadi shooting.
Last Wednesday, the request to see the case before another judge was rejected.
“The deals’s gone through”
Mr Shafiq believes Girgis is in a very good position, since there is no evidence whatsoever to incriminate him. The official medical report issued following the alleged rape confirmed the girl had been sexually assaulted, but there was absolutely no indication Girgis could have been the attacker. Apart from the fact that the girl’s claims are all inconsistent, Girgis huge hulk makes it physically impossible for him to have attacked her in the manner she explained. It is a pity, Mr Shafiq said, that the media has persisted in depicting Girgis as the culprit, going as far as to claim that he had admitted committing the rape crime, which he never did.
The trial of the three men charged with the Nag Hammadi shooting, according to Mr Shafiq, has been riddled with wide legal irregularities. The session of last Sunday was adjourned till 18 May in order to further hear the testimonies of witnesses, but this appeared to infuriate Nabih al-Wahsh, the lawyer defending the suspects, who then had a violent argument with the lawyers representing the victims’ families and even hit one of them. This induced the judge to hold a private meeting with the defendants’ lawyers. Following which Wahsh came out to announce triumphantly “The deal’s gone through”. No-one knows what this means, but it has led to suspicions of further irregularities, Mr Shafiq said. “We are considering making an official claim to the Justice Minister,” he said, “especially considering that this trial is being held before an emergency State Security court, meaning a verdict should have been issued within a maximum of three months. This is the fourth month into the trial and no end appears in sight.”
Seeing the Pope
Mr Shafiq told Watani that the lawyers representing the Nag Hammadi victims and those forming Girgis’s defence team in the Farshout case, together with Nag Hammadi Bishop Anba Kirillos, were due to meet Pope Shenouda III on Thursday evening. The meeting should have gone through as Watani International went to press.