Tuesday, February 3, 2009

DPA - Egyptian politician faces military trial for going to Gaza

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Feb 3, 2009

Cairo - An Egyptian opposition politician will face military trial on Thursday in the Suez Canal town of Ismailiya on charges of crossing into the Gaza Strip illegally, sources told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa on Tuesday.

Magdi Hussein, a fiery orator from Egypt's suspended Labour Party, was detained last Saturday when he came back to Egypt after spending a week in the Strip.

The legal adviser of Egypt's Press Syndicate Sayed Abu Zaid said he went to the north Sinai town of al-Arish, where Hussein was detained, in order to demand Hussein's release, with the guarantee of his membership in the syndicate.

Hussein, an Islamist, was the editor of the Labour Party newspaper al-Shaab in the 1990s until the authorities closed it down and froze the Islamist party's activities in 2000.

'The prosecution refused to release Hussein and insisted on detaining him in al-Arish's central prison until he faces a military trial next Thursday,' Abu Zaid told dpa.

Hussein chronicled his trip in daily entries posted to the Labour Party's website after he crossed into the Gaza Strip through a hole in the border fence on January 23.

In articles posted on the Labour Party's website, Hussein said he had met with politicians and militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and that he had preached the virtues of armed struggle in Gazan mosques.

Earlier, Hussein said that he three times failed to enter Rafah legally before 'a friend' helped him to enter the territory through a hole in the border fence created, he said, when Israeli warplanes bombed the area.

The tunnels were dug by Palestinians to transfer goods, and people, from Egypt into the besieged Strip.

Israel, which imposed a blockade on the densely populated enclave ever since the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas seized it in June 2007, says people also transfer weapons through these tunnels.

Israel launched a 22-day offensive against Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire that took effect on January 18, leaving about 1,400 killed and more than 5,000 injured.

Egyptian security forces last detained Hussein in October, when they intercepted a convoy carrying medical supplies into Gaza and found him and five other Egyptian Islamist opposition politicians traveling into the Strip to protest the Egyptian and Israeli blockade of the salient.