(AFP) – Apr 29, 2010
CAIRO — Amnesty International on Thursday called for a retrial of 26 defendants convicted in Cairo of working for Lebanon's Hezbollah to launch attacks in Egypt, criticising the use of an emergency court.
"These men should be retried by an ordinary court which gives them a chance of getting a fair trial," said the London-based rights watchdog.
"Bypassing justice by referring sensitive cases to emergency courts undermines the criminal justice system and encourages human rights abuses," Amnesty said.
In a trial which reflected Egypt's tense ties with the Lebanese Shiite group, the men -- Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians and a Sudanese national -- received jail terms of between six months and life imprisonment.
Four of the men were tried in absentia, three of whom were given the longest jail terms.
The 26 were convicted of plotting attacks against ships in the Suez Canal and on tourist sites, among other charges.
"Their conviction was based on 'confessions' which the defendants say were obtained under torture," Amnesty said in a statement.
Egypt's emergency law, in place since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, allows for indefinite detention and the courts set up under the law deny the right of appeal.
The defendants "were denied an adequate defence and tried by a special court whose decisions cannot be appealed before a higher tribunal. Convictions after unfair trials can only entrench injustice," Amnesty said.
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