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8 suspect rioters released pending trial.

A Cairo court on Thrusday ordered the release of eight suspected rioters, affiliated to a youth group calling for reform, who face charges of harassing policemen, destroying cars and disrubting public security during a protest against a New Year's Eve bombing in Alexandria that killed 23 Copts.

"The eight defendants can walk free without bail until their next hearing resumes next Thursday," said Tag Fekri, the Chief judge of Rod el-Farag Misdemeanour Court.

The eight suspects, all Muslims from April 6 Youth Movement, were among 3,000 of Coptic and Muslim protesters who were expressing their anger against the Al-Qiddissein (Two Saints) Church in Alexandria, when they were arrested.

"The lawyers should be allowed to photocopy documents enclosed in the case and prepare their defence for next week's hearing," the judge said.

Twenty-three lawyers from human rights groups and from the Bar Association's Freedoms Committee were speaking for the defendants as hundreds of activists were protesting outside the court.

"The defendants were arrested late on Monday. They were referred to an urgent trial on Tuesday and their case is heard today. All their crime was showing solidarity with their Coptic brethren," a statement from the lawyers read.

It claimed that they were all tortured by police while in temporary detention. "We ask for forensic doctors to examine the defendants who were electrocuted and badly beaten up," added the statement.

Despite the decision to free the eight suspected rioters, around 100 activists from April 6 and Kefaya opposition group transferred their protest to outside the offices of the Prosecutor General in downtown Cairo, condemning the bombing against the Alexandria church.

Protests had broken out in Christian areas of Egypt since the car bombing outside the church. But security forces beefed up their presence Tuesday in Alexandria and Shubra in northern Cairo.

Hundreds of officers - outfitted in helmets with visors, body armour and carrying shields and night sticks - lined the street, leaving a path for the Shubra demonstrators to pass.

Millions of people live in the Shubra neighbourhood, home to a strong Christian population.

The Egyptian Gazette 2009 All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Jan 6, 2011
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