By Mada Masr –
After 22 months in custody, the Mansoura Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court decided to release Patrick George Zaki, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
His trial on false news charges in relation to an article he wrote depicting his life as a Christian in Egypt was adjourned until February 1, 2022.
Zaki’s lawyers did not anticipate the release decision, said a member of the defense team, lawyer Hoda Nasrallah, who described it as a “best case scenario” outcome.
Zaki’s mother fainted briefly after hearing the judge’s decision, Nasrallah told Mada Masr, noting that Zaki is likely to be released from Mansoura and may even be able to travel back to Europe to continue his postgraduate studies unless a travel ban is issued against him.
The release decision does not include any precautionary measures, said Nasrallah, so Zaki will not be obliged to check in with his local police department.
Zaki will still stand trial before the emergency court next year. Emergency court decisions are not subject to a normal appeals process. Postgraduate student Ahmed Samir Santawy was sentenced to four years in prison in an emergency trial earlier this year.
Zaki, a gender issues researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and a postgraduate student at the University of Bologna, was arrested from Cairo International Airport during a visit to Egypt in February 2020 and has been held in remand detention since. His lawyer Samuel Thabet previously told Mada Masr that Zaki recounted being beaten, stripped, electrocuted on his back and stomach, verbally abused and threatened with rape while in detention.
The State Security Prosecution referred Zaki to trial on September 14, in relation to the article he wrote that was published by the Lebanon-based news outlet, Daraj, in 2019.
During the court session, Zaki’s defense team submitted several requests, including a hearing of the testimony of a detective officer who wrote in the arrest report that Zaki was arrested in Mansoura and not Cairo airport, as well as the National Security Agency officer who conducted investigations. The team also demanded a copy of a court ruling on inheritance, a controversial issue for Egyptian nationals who are Christian, which Zaki mentioned in his 2019 article for Daraj.