Sumario: July 30, 2002: Commissioner Patten deplores ruling of Egyptian State Security Court against Saad Edin Ibrahim (Brussels)
The Egyptian State Security Court imposed yesterday new harsh sentences against Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim(1) and other staff members of the Ibn Khaldoun Centre, which has been a project partner of the EC for programmes of voter education. Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten declared today: "I was dismayed to learn of these sentences and reiterate that the European Commission has no evidence of the alleged falsification of documents, which seems to have been central to the
case for the prosecution. We deplore the continued use of State security courts to prosecute cases of this nature. The questionable procedures used in the conduct of this high profile trial, the decision to retry these defendants after a successful appeal, the deteriorating health of the principal defendant, and the harsh outcome of the new trial must all concern those who most support Egypt in its ambitious programme of economic, social and political reform. These sentences against a well
known and internationally respected democracy campaigner and his collaborators will be deeply regretted by Egypt's many friends abroad."
Having conducted an audit of the Ibn Khaldoun Centre the European Commission has no evidence about the alleged falsification of documents presented to the EC and presented a deposition in the trial to that effect. The European Commission will request the Egyptian authorities to release what additional information they may have.
The European Commission reiterates the importance it attaches to the development of civil society. Its essential contribution is underlined by the Barcelona Declaration to which both the European Union and Egypt are parties. Support to Civil Society is an integral feature of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and of the European Union's bilateral cooperation with all its Mediterranean partners, including Egypt.
The European Union and the European Commission previously deplored the harsh sentences imposed last May in an earlier trial whose verdicts were subsequently set aside by the Court of Cassation on the grounds of judicial irregularity.
The European Commission supported programmes of voter education administered by the Ibn Khaldoun Centre (€ 170.000) and by the League of Egyptian women voters (HODA) (€ 145.000) between July 1997 and July 2000, which were part-funded from the MEDA Democracy Programme(2).
(1) 7 years of forced labour for alleged receipt of donations without permission, forgery, smearing Egypts image abroad, falsification of documents presented to the EC.
(2) For further details see European Commission press release IP/00/1495 of 13 December 2000.