30 May - 5 June 2002
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PRESIDENT Hosni Mubarak has received an invitation to attend next month's Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Canada. Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham delivered the invitation by Prime Minister Jean Chretien during talks with Mubarak on Saturday on the situation in the Middle East.
The G-8 summit, scheduled for 26-27 June, is expected to discuss plans to convene an international Middle East peace conference. "President Mubarak promised to study the possibility of attending," Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told reporters. The Alberta summit will bring together the leaders of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia. Russia, the EU and the UN have backed a US plan to hold a conference in the summer to revive the peace process.
In Cairo, Mubarak told Graham that Israel "needed to change its policy and to cooperate with international efforts in order to reach a settlement".
THE TRIAL of prominent human rights activist Saadeddin Ibrahim was adjourned on Saturday for two weeks to allow the defence to review exhibits, reports Jailan Halawi. At the same time, Ibrahim's defence team complained that prosecutors were holding back "essential evidence" needed in defending their client. According to Ibrahim's lawyers, most of the exhibits made available to them were "insufficient" and "unimportant".
After his arrest in June 2000, prosecutors seized books, video tapes and publications from Ibrahim's Ibn Khaldoun Centre for Developmental Studies, which his lawyers described as "essential evidence". Not included in that evidence were 11 boxes of exhibits whose contents are to be reviewed by lawyers before the trial resumes on 9 June. The boxes contain, according to the lawyers, incidental correspondence and irrelevant financial documents released for review.
Some of the boxes were not properly sealed, lawyers said, claiming that evidence may have been tampered with. The boxes contained voting cards and voter rosters which the prosecution claimed were forged and used as evidence to prove Ibrahim embezzled $250,000 from European Union funds. The EU said in an affidavit it was convinced the grant had not misused. The evidence in question was used during Ibrahim's original trial last year to convict him of defaming Egypt and violating military decree No 4 which prohibits accepting foreign funding without government approval.
Ibrahim and 27 of his associates were arrested after announcing his centre would monitor Egypt's 2000 parliamentary elections. His 1995 election report claimed that the voting was rigged.
In May last year he was sentenced to seven years in prison but was released in February after the Court of Cassation overturned the ruling and ordered a retrial. An improper review of evidence was among the reasons the court agreed to the retrial.
Fired for photo
SAID Abdel-Khaleq, chief editor of the weekly independent Al- Midan, has been axed for printing the first-ever published picture of the corpse of President Anwar El-Sadat, clearly taken after his assassination by Islamist militants during a military parade on 6 October, 1981.
The colour photograph, published on the front page of Al- Midan, shows the bare torso and head of Sadat laid out on a white sheet. A white bandage runs across the body's chest while most of the exposed abdomen is pockmarked with what appear to be small red holes.
Board chairman Mahmoud El-Shinawi fired Abdel-Khaleq after the speaker of the Shura Council, Mustafa Kamal Helmi, objected to the publication of the photo. In a complaint he filed with the prosecutor-general, "If values are absent, the constitution and the law are not, and they will deal with such an transgression against personal lives and all freedoms that are guaranteed by law," Helmi said.
Abdel-Khaleq is the former co-editor of Al-Wafd opposition newspaper. He left his job at Al-Wafd after clashing with the party's chairman Noaman Gomaa.
CAIRO's administrative court on Saturday quashed an earlier verdict revoking a newspaper's licence for publishing a story about a defrocked and excommunicated monk allegedly running a sex- and-blackmail ring in a monastery.
In July 2001, the weekly independent Al-Nabaa was banned for making "false allegations about a holy site" and "undermining national unity" after charges were filed by the Supreme Press Council. The newspaper coupled its story with splashed, blurred pornographic photos of a defrocked monk purportedly having sex with women inside the monastery of Deir Al-Muharraq in Assiut. The Coptic Church strongly denied the monastery was defiled.
The court stated that constitutional and press laws protected press freedom and that penalties did not include revoking licences.
In September 2001, the Emergency State Security Court convicted Mamdouh Mahran, Al-Nabaa's chief editor, of launching a disinformation campaign, inciting hatred for a religious community and publishing photographs that offended public morality. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
After the story and photos were published, thousands of Copts staged protests and Mahran's Press Syndicate membership was frozen.
ARAB travellers visiting Egypt this summer will find it easier to get visas, and customs and accommodation will be facilitated. The new measures were announced at a press conference held by Minister of Tourism Mamdouh El-Beltagui on Sunday, Rehab Saad writes.
El-Beltagui said Arab tourism constituted the second biggest market in Egypt after Europe. "Arab tourism is on top of the Ministry of Tourism's priorities because it constitutes from between 18 to 20 per cent of the total tourist movement to Egypt. The Arab traveller stays longer and spends more money than any other tourist and is thus given priority," he said.
El-Beltagui said Egypt was expecting an influx of Arab tourists this summer. "The inter-Arab tourist movement will definitely increase after 11 September," he said.
The new steps will allow Arab travellers, who must get an entry visa for Egypt, to be provided visas in 72 hours at most. Nationals from the Arab Gulf area, Syria, Jordan and Libya will get an on- the-spot visa whether they come by car, plane or ship. The visas will be valid for one year and for more than one trip.
Arab travellers will be also able to drive their cars to Egypt and keep them in the country for six months. The same applies to yachts. Other ways of assistance include setting up an entry point in Salloum for Libyan travellers. Arabs have also been given the right to own more than one apartment in Egypt. Two is the maximum.
"Arab travellers were always the focus, but this year we decided to exert the same promotional effort in the Arab market as we do in Europe," El-Beltagui said. He cited the campaign launched on Arab satellite channels entitled "El-Beit Beitak" (Make Yourself at Home) which. "Several advertisements have been published in Arab magazines and newspapers, in addition to distributing posters and erecting billboards," El-Beltagui added.
THIS SUMMER is turning out to be a lucky season for discovering Egyptian antiquities, reports Nevine El-Aref. Two weeks after finding a stolen sandstone statue of a high priest of Karnak's Temple of Montu, antiquity officials located a granite fragment on display at an auction hall in New York. The piece was stolen from Beh-Bit Al-Haggar temple in Gharbiya governorate in the Nile Delta.
"The fragment was recognised by a French archaeologist who immediately informed the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to halt the New York auction," Farouk Hosni, the minister of culture, said.
Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, described the fragment as a very well preserved piece of art depicting a face of a Ptolemaic king from the 4th century BC. He said it was originally part of a larger scene engraved on a wall inside Beh-Bit temple, which was built for the worship of the goddess Isis.
The fragment was chipped off the wall along with other objects stolen from the site storehouse and smuggled out of the country.
A task force including Interpol, a committee of archaeologists, antiquities police and legal experts has been formed under the auspices of the SCA to track down the smugglers.
Compiled by Shaden Shehab
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