14 Egyptians on trial for 2005 Cairo bombings
CAIRO, June 17 (Reuters) Fourteen Egyptians went on trial today on charges connected with two bombings which targeted tourists in the capital Cairo in April 2005.
An American, two French people and the bomber were killed in the first attack in the bazaar area of the old city. In a second bombing near the Egyptian museum three weeks later, seven people were wounded and the bomber was killed.
The defendants all denied charges that they helped the bombers, either by providing money, reconnoitring targets or collecting materials to make the explosives.
Other charges include forming an illegal group based on the ideology of declaring the ruler to be an infidel and legitimising rebellion against the government.
Several said they had been tortured in detention by State Security investigators to obtain false confessions and had been denied family visits through more than one year in custody.
They include two women who are out of jail on bail and three young men whom the defence said were under 18 years old.
A member of their volunteer defence team, lawyer Mukhtar Nouh, said the Interior Ministry had framed the defendants because it could not identify the real culprits and wanted to improve its image among the public.
The court gave the defendants permission to receive visitors in prison, ordered medical reports and asked the authorities to seek out the birth certificates of the three alleged minors. It then postponed the next hearing in the case until October 21.
At the time of the bombings, police said they were the work of a small group of religious extremists based in the Nile valley. They have blamed a separate group of Sinai bedouin for three big bombings which have killed more than 115 people on the east coast of Sinai since October 2004.
REUTERS SHB PM2007