One of the key
witnesses and defendants in the trial of Egyptian opposition leader
Ayman Nour was found hanged in his prison cell in central Cairo
yesterday morning, security sources said.
Ayman Esmail Hassan,
who during Nour's trial retracted his testimony against the politician,
hanged himself with a sheet in the prison where he was serving a
five-year sentence on a charge of forging documents, they added.
Hassan said he had made up his testimony under pressure from state security police, who had threatened members of his family.
"I confessed to
forgery under pressure from officers from state security," Hassan told
reporters on June 30, 2005, after his lawyer told the court he had
changed his plea to not guilty.
The court disregarded his retraction and went on to sentence both Ayman Nour and Ayman Hassan to five years in prison.
Amir Salem, the lawyer
who defended Nour in the trial and who has been trying to secure his
release on health grounds, said: "He [Hassan] was the only person taken
alone and put in the Appeals prison [in central Cairo], and according
to his family he complained constantly of ill treatment."
"He was the only
person in the Ayman Nour case who insisted on retracting his statements
against Ayman Nour, and he admitted twice in front of court that all
his statements were contrived," Salem said. "[The judge] refused to pay
You kind of get the feeling that the Egyptian government isn't even trying to pretend or save face anymore.