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Media barred from reporting on trial of individuals accused of murdering Lebanese artist

(ANHRI/IFEX) - ANHRI's Legal Aid Unit for Freedom of Expression utterly rejects the decision issued by the president of the criminal court in south Cairo at a trial session held on 16 November 2008. This ruling upheld a previous decision to ban the media and the publication of any information from the trial of the individuals accused of murdering Lebanese artist Susan Tamim. All note-taking is prohibited, except for the court record and the publication of any final decision made by the court at the end of the trial.

A decision to prohibit publicity in this case was applied to all audio and visual media, and all newspapers, daily magazines, and national and international daily and weekly publications. The case involves a prominent Egyptian businessman who is related to the first family.

"The decision of the president of the court is a breach of the right to truth, and allows rumours to spread more freely," said Rawda Ahmed, a lawyer at ANHRI's Legal Aid Unit for Freedom of Expression. "This decision and similar such decisions, as well as the news blackout imposed on this case are purely for political and personal reasons, particularly in view of the fact that the court did not put forward any other reasons for reaching its conclusion."

In August, ANHRI and the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre submitted an appeal against the original decision made by the prosecutor general to prohibit any publicity in the case surrounding the murder of Tamim. This was based on the decision's lack of compliance with the Egyptian constitution, the legal system and international conventions.

ANHRI demands that the Egyptian government respect freedom of the press and freedom of opinion and expression. The organisation also calls on the government to maintain transparency and fulfill its constitutional, legal and international commitments that provide for the protection of these freedoms.

For further information on the limitations imposed on media reports on the Tamim case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96034

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