JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Sept 5, 2012 (AFP) -
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Sept 5, 2012 (AFP) –
An Egyptian lawyer whose arrest on drug trafficking charges sparked a diplomatic row with Cairo charged on Wednesday that prosecution evidence against him was fabricated, a judicial
In his second court appearance since the trial began in July, human rights lawyer Ahmed al-Gizawi, his wrists and ankles shackled, denied any wrongdoing.
Gizawi was arrested in April and accused of trying to smuggle 21,380 capsules of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, which is banned in Saudi Arabia.
“If the X-ray system of the customs has indeed caught me, how did I manage to get out and buy a mobile phone SIM card?” Gizawi said in court in the presence of a legal counsellor from the Egyptian consulate in Jeddah.
He demanded that investigators provide the court with “a list of the calls made with that chip,” the judicial source said.
He also challenged further evidence provided by the prosecution.
“The prosecution says I was caught at 5:30 in the morning, while in fact I was free till 1:30 pm,” he said.
And he dismissed as fabricated pictures showing him with two milk cartons and a cover for the Koran, in which the prosecution alleges he had hidden the banned substance.
“I was forced to sit for this picture seven days after my arrest,” he charged.
The case was adjourned until September 26.
In the first hearing the prosecution demanded the death penalty, the punishment for drug trafficking in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Gizawi had travelled in April to Saudi Arabia with his wife to perform the omra, a minor pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, when he was detained at Jeddah airport, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said.
The Egyptian organisation claimed at the time that Gizawi was held after he was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison and 20 lashes for criticising the Saudi government.
Gizawi was being targeted for his activism over Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons, it said.
Hundreds of Egyptian protesters rallied outside Riyadh’s embassy in Cairo demanding his release, prompting the kingdom to shut down its mission.
The embassy reopened on May 4 following a fence-mending visit to King Abdullah by a large delegation of Egyptian politicians and prominent figures.