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Egypt court orders retrial for Greste

There is new hope for the freedom of Peter Greste today, after an Egyptian court ordered a retrial for the jailed Australian journalist and his colleagues.

Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were found guilty of ‘spreading false news’ in relation to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted in a military coup.

Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven-year jail terms, while Baher Mohamed was handed a 10-year sentence.

The decision to retry the case means Greste will once again be treated as a not guilty person facing charges.

Greste will now petition for deportation by presidential decree from Egypt, his parents Juris and Lois confirmed.

A bid for bail for the detained Australian journalist and his two Al Jazeera colleagues on Thursday was denied.

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Disappointed lawyers and relatives had hoped the retrial decision would include an immediate release on bail amid speculation president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would pardon the men.

“Their release on bail can only be ordered by the court that will hold their retrial,” said Greste’s lawyer, Amr Al-Deeb.

“They will not be released until they appear before the new chamber, which will decide whether to release them or not,” added defence attorney Mostafa Nagy, who represents Greste and Mohamed.

Mr Al-Deeb said he believed the new trial could begin with a  month, according to a report by the ABC.

Greste and his colleagues have been behind bars since December 29, 2013, in a case that sparked a global outcry.

He was sentenced to seven years on charges of defaming Egypt and aiding banned Islamists, prompting claims their trial was politically motivated and demands for a presidential pardon.

His mother and father, Lois and Juris Greste, were in Egypt to attend the hearing.

Outside court, Lois Greste said: “I can’t believe it.”

“I’m shocked,” Juris Greste added.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said last year that he could not consider a plea of clemency or a pardon until all legal proceedings had been concluded, including an appeal.

Dr Bob Bowker, a former Australian ambassador to Egypt, said he expected the court would find there was a need to reconsider the verdict but not necessarily to order a full retrial.

“I think it’s encouraging that the court has recognised the need for a retrial, but I am concerned that it could be a lengthy process to bring that about,” he told ABC News 24.

“Given the political sensitivities of this case, I would expect that the Egyptian government would try to encourage the court to set an early date for a retrial.”

Dr Bowker said Greste’s family would be disappointed that bail was not granted.

“The family has shown remarkable discipline and resilience in the face of all these tribulations,” he said.

Australia should ‘shirtfront’ Egyptian officials

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera television called for the swift release of the journalists, and said Egypt’s international standing would be further damaged by the more time the men spent in custody.

“The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice – free these men quickly or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world,” the channel said.

Geoffrey Robertson QC said the court’s decision was the worst possible result.

“Let’s face it, Peter and his colleagues are completely innocent,” he said.

“I have read the judgment in translation. There is no evidence whatsoever that they published false reports. Their reports were true.

“Any honest bench of judges should and could have simply held that the men were innocent.”

Mr Robertson said the Australian Government should step up its lobbying of Egypt to have Greste released.

“It is about time that if Australia believes in freedom of speech, we should shirtfront these people who have made such a nonsense of it and are really holding Peter and his colleagues as hostages,” he said.

– with ABC

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