Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 20:30 pm (KSA) 17:30 pm (GMT)

Hezbollah "members" allege torture in Egypt jail

A policeman stands guard in front of suspects accused of plotting attacks in the Suez Canal
A policeman stands guard in front of suspects accused of plotting attacks in the Suez Canal

Twenty-six men accused of plotting attacks in Egypt as members of Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance group claimed they were tortured by police in custody ahead of their trial, which began in a Cairo court on Sunday.

The cell of alleged members, dressed in white as they stood in a cage behind the dock, denied the charges of "conspiracy to murder, spying for a foreign organization with intent of conducting terrorist attacks and weapons possession."

 If you don't' believe us, just look at our bodies 
Defendant shouts at judge

All those present denied the charges and as some of the defendants made the torture allegations, one man shouted to the judge: "If you don't' believe us, just look at our bodies."

Four more accused are on the run and are being tried in absentia, including alleged Lebanese mastermind Mohammed Qublan.

During the hearing one man shouted "We are at your command Nasrallah," in an apparent reference to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah who admitted in April that one of the defendants, Lebanese Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed Mansur known as Sami Shihab, was a Hezbollah agent tasked with smuggling weapons in to the Gaza Strip.

But several of the Egyptian defendants declared in unison from the cage: "We live and die as Egyptians. We will never betray our country."

The suspects are escorted to attend their trial at a Cairo security court

Authorities began arresting members of what has become known as the "Hezbollah cell" in 2008, accusing them of plotting attacks against Israeli tourists and on ships in the Suez Canal.

The case has highlighted the worries of conservative Sunni Muslim states like Egypt about the increasing influence of Shiite Iran and groups, like Hezbollah, seen as Tehran's proxies.

Egypt's announcement in April that it had detained the men heightened tensions with the Lebanese guerrilla group, which had angered Cairo this year by accusing the Egyptian authorities of complicity with Israel in its siege of Gaza.

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