Maikel Nabil boycotts retrial, vows hunger strike will continue

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011
'No to Military Trials for Civlians' continues to campaign for Maikel Nabil's release

'No to Military Trials for Civlians' continues to campaign for Maikel Nabil's release Photo: Mona Seif

Blogger Maikel Nabil, who has been in prison since March 28, refused to appear at his retrial on October 18 and instructed his lawyers to withdraw from the proceedings.

In April, a military court sentenced Nabil to three years in jail for "insulting" the Supreme Council of the Armed Forced (SCAF).

But on October 11, a military appeals court dropped the three-year sentence for lack of evidence - his file reportedly failed to be delivered to the prosecutor's office in time - to support the initial ruling and ordered a retrial on October 18.

Nabil, who has been writing letters from his prison cell, said that his boycott of the hearing was triggered by the court's refusal to allow for witnesses to testify on his behalf.
Nabil claims that this is an "unjust military decision," while a verdict is yet to be issued.

After the hearing, several media reports mentioned that the military court had decided to transfer Maikel to a psychiatric ward for 40 days. However, Maikel's family and lawyers did not confirm this.

His brother, Mark Nabil, told The Caravan that Maikel was arrested from his home in late March on the charge of "sabotaging SCAF's reputation."

He said that this was not the first time Maikel Nabil had a brush with SCAF; on January 28 he was denied entry to Tahrir Square and was arrested and allegedly tortured for the possession of flyers which called for a civil society in Egypt. His detention lasted 48 hours back then.

Since April, his court hearings were repeatedly postponed, prompting Nabil to begin a hunger strike on August 23.

Nabil said the hunger strike was a result of the unfair treatment he has been receiving from the court.

Mona Seif, founder of the "No to Military Tribunals" group, says she fully supports Nabil.

She said that Nabil was arrested early at a time when SCAF was more intolerant and abusive of its power.

"After the revolution, Egyptians were not carefully aware of military trials thinking SCAF was capturing thugs who were causing instability and insecurity in the country," she said.

"This was a major reason why many were not paying attention to Maikel's case."

Seif believes that activists who were detained after March 2011 and received media attention helped increase awareness of Nabil's case.

Although Seif opposes Nabil's views on the normalization of ties with Israel, she believes his case still "gained momentum" after he decided to go on a hunger strike.

Seif says he is being tried for political reasons and punished for expressing his opinion.

Since Nabil's health began to deteriorate last month, his family has sought to move him to a private hospital. They say they have sent at least 20 requests to authorities, and have yet to receive a response.

Nabil's lawyer, Negad Al-Borai, commented he no longer feels like he is part of the case after being repeatedly instructed by Nabil to boycott the hearings.

In the meantime, Nabil refuses to suspend his hunger strike, saying that it's either "death or freedom."