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Released by the courts, novelist continues to be held under new charges

(HRinfo/IFEX) - The El Arish Partial Court issued a decision on 16 February 2008 to free the novelist and activist Musaad Suleiman Hassan, a.k.a. Musaad Abu Fagr. This is the third such court ruling within a week.

This latest ruling follows the 14 February decision of the Public Prosecutor in El Arish, North Sinai, to detain him in custody on new fabricated charges, including instigating riots, possession of a weapon without permission and driving a car without a license. A new record (No. 1925 /2007 administrative, Rafah) was filed to include the new charges. These charges derive, according to the investigation record, from events in November 2007 - one month before the arrest of Abu Fagr on 26 December.

On 12 February 2008, an Appellate Court in Ismailia rejected an appeal by the Public Prosecution of Al Arish, and thus supported the decision of El Arish Partial Court to release Abu Fagr.

Abu Fagr's lawyers were surprised that the police did not release their client despite the court ruling, only to find out later that new charges had been laid against their client, with the hidden motive of taking revenge on him. The police transferred Abu Fagr from Ismailia to the Security Directorate of North Sinai, then to Rafah police station, and back to El Arish police station to investigate him on the new charges.

HRinfo, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and the People's Committee for Citizens' Rights in Sinai renewed their condemnation of the continued imprisonment of the novelist and activist Musaad Abu Fagr.

The undersigned organizations also express fear that, following the recurrence of judicial decisions to release the novelist, the security bodies would resort to the emergency law to continue detaining him through an administrative order. If this were to happen, it would clearly indicate that the security bodies resort to using the emergency law against political activists and those who express their opinion freely, and not only against the forces of terrorism, as claimed by the Egyptian government.

And the question remains: Are detention, arbitrary arrests and intimidation the solution for the problems and crises of the people of Sinai? Or is the solution to provide real development that the Sinai people lack, bearing in mind that Sinai represents about one-sixth of the total area of Egypt?

Signed institutions:
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo)
Hisham Mubarak Law Center
People's Committee for Citizens' Rights in Sinai

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