Al-Ahram Weekly Online   25 November - 1 December 2004
Issue No. 718
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Case delayed

LAST Thursday, the Israeli Bersheeba Court decided to postpone, until 13 December, a hearing in the case of the six Egyptian detainees accused of illegally infiltrating the Israeli borders. The court said the delay would give the Israeli side more time to examine the case file. Israeli security bodies had arrested the six Egyptian students on 25 August on charges of illegally infiltrating the Israeli borders, attempting to seize an Israeli tank and kidnap its soldiers, and planning to rob an Israeli bank to fund terrorist attacks in support of the Palestinian Intifada.

Hussein Abu Hussein, head of the students' legal defence team, has submitted a request to the Israeli court, asking for the Egyptian detainees' immediate release. The request included evidence indicating that the students did not intend to commit any hostile acts against Israel.

During the next session, the court is expected to give its verdict on the Egyptian request.

El-Beltagui back home

INFORMATION Minister Mamdouh El-Beltagui underwent successful brain surgery in Paris last week, and is expected to be back in Egypt by next week. El-Beltagui was suffering from a small blood clot in the left side of his brain; doctors recommended that he should travel to the American Hospital in Paris for the operation. Two years ago, El- Beltagui underwent a similar brain operation. His medical team said the minister's health condition had improved remarkably following the procedure, which took nearly three hours.

'No reason'

THE HUMAN Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners (HRAAP) called upon Interior Minister Habib El-Adli to release more than 3000 detainees from the Sinai region, who were arrested following last October's Taba blasts. The group's request was based on the fact that the ministry has already announced the arrest of those responsible for the Taba bombings. "Thus, there is no reason justifying the detention of such a large number of citizens," an association statement said. The HRAAP held a press conference yesterday to announce the results of a report prepared by a fact- finding committee dispatched by the group to Sinai to record the extent to which inhabitants of Al- Arish and Sheikh Zuweid might have been subjected to torture at the hands of Egyptian security forces.

Request denied

DURING a meeting last Saturday, the People's Assembly's legislative committee decided not to allow the newly formed Al-Ghad Party to form a parliamentary bloc. The party, recently approved, already had six of its members in the assembly; they were, however, originally elected as independent MPs. People's Assembly statutes stipulated that for any party to form a parliamentary bloc, its members must have first run for parliamentary elections and won seats as party members, and not as independents. Immediately after obtaining a licence from the political parties committee last October, Al-Ghad chairman MP Ayman Nour had filed the request to form a parliamentary bloc. Had the request been approved, it would have immediately made Al-Ghad the leading opposition front, since the party would have had the most MPs in the assembly. In protest, Nour announced his resignation from the legislative committee, and warned that he would appeal the decision at the International Parliamentary Federation.

Strange attacks

AFTER several years of quiet, the sala'wa, an obscure species of wild animals that allegedly look like hyenas, are causing panic again.

Last Sunday, the animals reportedly attacked and bit nearly 113 Alexandria residents. The injured were taken with serious wounds to their eyes, ears and arms to Ras Al-Tin hospital, where they received vaccinations against rabies. Hospital officials were quoted as saying that with the exception of three cases in serious condition, the rest of the injured had been treated.

In spite of testimonies by the injured, officials denied that the attacks were committed by sala'awas ; instead, they said the culprits were wild dogs. Security bodies are still searching for the animals.

Similar beasts had previously attacked inhabitants in Armant -- a town on the east bank of the Nile 500km south of Cairo -- killing three, and injuring dozens. Several other incidents were reported in other areas in Cairo at the time. Those animals had been shot dead by both inhabitants and policemen.

Compiled by Mona El-Nahhas

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