Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, June 18, 2007

Decision on Nour case delyaed until June 26

Any decision on whether Al-Ghad Party leader Ayman Nour will be released from prison must wait until June 26, when official medical reports into the state of health of the opposition leader are due to be issued, according to the latest edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

The ruling, set down by Egypt’s Administrative Court last Tuesday, also stated that Nour’s defense counsel, who has been complaining of procrastination in the official reports preparation, could present evidence from independent medical specialists regarding their client’s health. Under the ruling, if the official report, prepared by the Forensic Medicine Department, is not presented within two weeks, then the court will rely on the independent assessments of Nour’s health in delivering its ruling. Requests for the former presidential candidate’s release stem from his various medical ailments, such as diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension. Nour underwent heart surgery while in prison last year.

This ruling gives hope to many of Nour’s supporters that the political leader may soon end his 18-month stay behind bars. According to Al-Ahram Weekly, Nour’s lawyer, Amir Salem, said the court’s decision was a “historical ruling”, adding that it represented “a severe blow to administrative bodies used to ignoring court requests.” Gameela Ismail, Nour’s wife, said the she had never expected that the medical report would be made available to the court panel, which is why she is treating this court ruling as a victory.

Unfortunately, legal sources say there is a possibility that the Interior Ministry will ignore any ruling in Nour’s favor, using the struggle between several legal bodies, including the office of Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, which has the right to judge the case, as a way of discounting the decision. Others worry that there will be negative consequences from all of the U.S. pressure being put on the government for Nour’s release. The judge in the case has already stressed that the decision would be based entirely on the state of Nour’s health, and has said that he will not be swayed by national or international calls for his release.

President George Bush said during a recent conference on democracy in the Czech Republic that he looks “forward to the day when conferences like this one include… Ayman Nour of Egypt.” While some believe statements such as this will only make the Egyptian government more stubborn over Nour’s release, others point to the success such calls had for pro-democracy advocate Saad Ibrahim, who was released from his seven year prison sentence in 2003 following enormous U.S. pressure.

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