Mahmoud Hussein is a 19-year-old student who has spent over 18 months in pre-trial detention in Egypt after being arrested for wearing a T-shirt with the “Nation Without Torture Campaign” logo.
On 26 August Prisoner of conscience Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed 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 pre-trial 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 he was arrested on 25 January 2014.
During the pre-trial period, the defendant must appear in court every 45 days before a judge, who can order either his release or the renewal of his 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. The judicial authorities noticed this after the 24 August court proceeding, and so ordered Mahmoud Hussein back in court on 26 August. An order for 45 days of detention was announced on 26 August to act retrospectively and cover up for the 30 to 35 days when he was held without a court order, according to his lawyer.