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Egypt court again postpones verdict in Jazeera reporters’ retrial

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Egyptian court on Sunday postponed for a second time its verdict in the retrial of three Al-Jazeera journalists, rescheduling it for August 29.

The court had already put off its much anticipated verdict last Thursday because the judge was reportedly ill.

Another judge at Sunday’s hearing said the verdict was being delayed again because other defendants in the trial could not be brought to the court room from their cells.

Australian Peter Greste, Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were jailed last year for “spreading false news” that supported the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood during their coverage of the turmoil after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Fahmy, Baher and several other defendants in the trial were released on bail at the start of the retrial early this year, but at least one codefendant has been jailed in a separate case.

The Al-Jazeera case has deeply embarrassed the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has said he wishes the reporters were never put on trial.

“Verdict postponed until August 29th The audacity & continuous disrespect to our rights is unprecedented!” Fahmy tweeted minutes after the judge postponed the verdict.

A guilty verdict for the journalists may further embarrass the government, as it resumes close ties with Washington after a diplomatic rift in 2013.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Johan Kerry and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry launched strategic talks in Cairo to repair ties.

Fahmy and Greste, who has since been deported, received seven-year prison terms in the original trial, while producer Mohamed was jailed for 10 years.

The case further strained Egypt’s ties with Western countries which had condemned a deadly crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.

An appeals court ordered a retrial, saying the original judgement lacked evidence against the three journalists, who work for the Doha-based network’s English channel.

The trial had come against the backdrop of a diplomatic spat between Egypt and Qatar, which supports Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.

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