Shafiq, other witnesses skip Battle of the Camel trial

Lawyers representing victims of a February 2011 attack on Tahrir Square demonstrators demanded Thursday that presidential contender Ahmed Shafiq, a senior military leader, and a preacher be arrested and forced to testify in court.

The trial, which began last year, includes 24 defendants — members of the disbanded National Democratic Party, businessmen and former lawmakers — accused of involvement in killing protesters on 2 and 3 February last year during the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

On 2 February, peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators were attacked by assailants in Tahrir Square, some of whom rode horses and camels, in an assault known as the Battle of the Camel. At least 11 protesters were killed.

Major General Hassan al-Roweiny, the Central Military Zone commander and a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Shafiq and Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazy apologized Thursday for not being able to testify in a court session scheduled for that day.

The victims' lawyers requested that the Cairo Criminal Court, led by presiding judge Mostafa Hassan Abdallah, issue an arrest warrant for the three men to compel them to appear in court.

The court adjourned the trial to 11 July, which it scheduled, along with the following day, for the testimonies of the three men.

Freedom and Justice Party MP Mohamed al-Beltagy testified Wednesday that a major general in the General Intelligence Services refused to secure Tahrir Square during the attack.

Beltagy said that the intelligence official claimed he could not prevent Egyptian citizens, in this case the camel and horse riders, from expressing their opinions in the square.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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