Zaky appeals hearing set for Saturday

 CAIRO – An appeals hearing for detained Bologna university student Patrick Zaky will be held on Saturday Feb. 15, the NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) tweeted on Friday.

 The Mansoura Prosecutor’s Office in Egypt will hear Zaky’s lawyer’s appeal against the decision to hold the activist in pre-trial custody for 15 days.

 Zaky, who had been held by Egyptian authorities at Mansoura II police station since Feb. 8, has been transferred to the nearby Talka facility. 

 His family and EIPR lawyers were able to visit him for less than a minute. 

 According to a press release issued by EIPR, Zaky’s detention conditions are “less favourable” than previously experienced but he “has not been mistreated” in the new prison.

 If Zaky’s appeal is successful, he will be released. 

 But if it is rejected, the judges will decide at a Feb. 22 hearing whether to extend his pre-trial detention for another 15 days.

 Zaky, a researcher on gender and human rights at EIPR was arrested at Cairo airport Thursday after flying from Bologna, Italy, to visit family in Egypt. 

 Placed under a two-week detention order, the activist was taken to his hometown of Mansoura where he was reportedly interrogated for 35 hours.

 The 27-year-old, who had been in Bologna since August 2019 for postgraduate studies, was allegedly tied up and blindfolded, suffering sleep depravation but was not subjected to electric shocks, his friend Amr told Italian news agency ANSA.

 Among the accusations against the student are the spreading of fake news and using social media to provoke protests.

 According to his lawyers, Zaky risks life imprisonment for attempting to overthrow the ruling regime.

 Zaky had been interrogated and tortured over his work with EIPR and possible ties with Giulio Regeni’s family, his lawyers said.

 Regeni, an Italian citizen and Cambridge University student who had been researching Egyptian trade unions, was tortured and murdered in Cairo four years ago. 

 In an effort to prevent Zaky from suffering the same fate as their son, Regeni’s parents are urging “democratic governments” to protect the activist.

 "We are following with attention and concern the arrest in Cairo of the Egyptian student George Zaky," Paola and Claudio Regeni said in a statement.
 "Patrick, like Giulio, is a brilliant international student and holds dear people's inviolable rights.
 ‘’We know what the Egyptian ferocity is capable of: kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, torture, threats, with the hypocritical complicity of governments and institutions that do not want to break their friendship with Egypt,” they said.

 The EIPR is calling for the Facebook community to replace their personal profile pictures with a “Free Patrick” image – in solidarity with Zaky – from 9 p.m. Friday until the prosecutor makes a decision regarding the appeal.