Tuesday, October 11, 2005

BBC News - Egypt court rebuffs Nour petition

Ayman Nour in court
Nour is caged in court as is the practice in Egypt

An Egyptian appeals court has fined opposition figure Ayman Nour and rejected his request for a new tribunal to try him on charges of forgery.

Mr Nour's lawyers said the court had given no explanation for the 9,000 Egyptian pound ($1,500) penalty.

The defence had argued that the court colluded with the prosecution by preventing their client from speaking.

Mr Nour, who was second in last month's presidential election, is accused of forging signatures to set up his party.

"The claims upon which Ayman Nour based the reasons for his appeal have no basis in truth or law," the court said in its ruling.


Defence lawyer Amir Salem, in an interview with AFP news agency, criticised the court's conduct.

"This fine amounts to a punishment, and should have only been imposed if the defence's request had been made with a view to slowing or precluding progress in the trial, which was not the case here," he said.

Forty-year-old Mr Nour, who heads the Ghad (Tomorrow) party, denies the charges against him and says he is the victim of a plot to block his rise on the political scene.

He was arrested in January and was detained for six weeks without charge until his release on bail. The detention raised concerns in Washington.

A co-defendant in the trial, Ayman Ismail, had admitted forging documents for Mr Nour - but he has since withdrawn his testimony, saying the confession was forced out of him with threats against his family.

If Mr Nour is convicted he could face up to 15 years in prison.