Mahmoud Hussein, a 19-year-old student, has spent over 18 months in pretrial detention in Egypt after being arrested for wearing a shirt with the “Nation Without Torture Campaign” logo.
On August 26, Hussein was taken to Cairo’s Abbassia Court for an unexpected court proceeding, according to Amnesty International. He had appeared in court two days earlier when his detention was renewed, so he was not expected in court for another six weeks.
Under Egyptian law, a person can be held in pretrial detention for two years, if accused of crimes punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty. The accusations against Mahmoud Hussein include offenses that carry the penalty of life imprisonment, but they relate solely to a videotaped “confession” that he was forced to give under torture after his arrest in January.
During the pretrial period, the defendant must appear in court every 45 days before a judge, who can order either the defendant's release or renew the detention. In Mahmoud Hussein’s case, the authorities have on several occasions failed to transfer him to court before the 45-day period has expired, meaning that he was being held without a court order and, therefore, in contravention of the law.
Judicial authorities realized this after the August 24 court proceeding, and thus ordered Mahmoud Hussein back in court two days later.
According to Hussein's lawyer, an order for 45 days of detention was announced on August 26 to act retrospectively and make up for the 30 to 35 days when Hussein was held without a court order.