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Four journalists referred to criminal court for “defaming” the minister of justice

Cairo, Jan 6 (Aswat Masriya) - Four journalists were referred to the Cairo Criminal Court on Wednesday on charges of "defaming and publishing false information on the minister of justice Ahmed al-Zind."

The defendants include the editor-in-chief of the Al Ahram Gate website, Hisham Younis, the editor-in-chief of Al Mesryoon Gamal Soltan, and two more journalists.

Al-Zind filed a complaint against the four journalists, in which he accused them of publishing false news of him illegally selling land belonging to the Judges' Club in Port Said.

In the complaint, al-Zind said that "the land sale measures were announced in Al Ahram and the Al Gomhuria newspapers in the public bids sections."

He added: "A joint committee was formed to oversee the auction." The committee is made up of various high-ranking judges, who are also a part of the Judges' Club.

The report published in September 2014 on Al Ahram Gate, a state-owned website, said that "documents proved" al-Zind's involvement in selling a piece of land belonging to the Judges' Club in Port Said to a relative of his wife for 18,000 EGP per meter.

According to the report, the 508.5 square meters of land sold for a total of nine million and 153,000 EGP. The Al-Mesryoon report covered the same story, which al-Zind also considered to be "defaming."

The watchdog "Journalists Against Torture" group quoted Eman Yehia, one of the referred journalists, in a statement saying that she was "surprised" to find herself referred to criminal court Wednesday morning.  

Yehia added that the documents that supported the report were "valid" and "proved" that the bid was held between two people, and the land, worth over 50,000 EGP, was sold to a relative of al-Zind's wife for 18,000 EGP.

In 2012, three people who were accused of attacking al-Zind, then the head of the Judges' Club, were detained and later released on a bail of 5000 Egyptian pounds each. 

The prosecution had accused the defendants of deliberately attacking the judge and attempting to raid the premises but they denied the charges filed against them. 

Zind was transferred to a local hospital after he received minor injuries when the attackers hurled stones at him last Sunday upon his exiting of the club following a session to discuss the referendum on Egypt's new constitution.

A version of this article was originally published in Aswat Masriya


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