Published by Consiglio Direttivo Mediterranea | 19 / Jul / 2023

Patrick Zaki sentenced in Egypt, 'Safe Country'

Patrick Zaki was once again taken hostage by the regime oppressing his country, Egypt. After yet another hearing in the mock trial brought against Patrick by a special court in Mansoura (State Security Court), the human rights activist was dragged away by agents. A three-year prison sentence was imposed on him. They led him out of the courtroom through the passage in the defendants' cage, amidst the shouts of his mother and girlfriend who were waiting outside.

After the 22 months of pre-trial detention in prison, Zaki is therefore still hostage to the violence of Al-Sisi and his military judicial apparatus. Theoretically he should be in prison for another 14 months, having already spent 22 months in pre-trial detention, but who is to say, under dictatorship, what can happen to a political prisoner?

Egypt has thousands of political prisonersə rotting in putrid jails where the state practices all kinds of violence on them. Particularly on women. We have known in recent years the horror and terror on which the dictator Al -Sisi bases his power: Giulio Regeni, tortured and killed by a secret service squad, reminds us of this every day.

Egypt is also the dictatorship with which the Italian government, the current one as well as those before, maintains solid relations of 'friendship', in order to secure contracts for Eni on oil, Leonardo and Finmeccanica on weapons and warships. Now Prime Minister Meloni has said she 'trusts' in a political solution for Patrick. There is talk of a possible pardon of the dictator on the eve of the next international summit. The bodies and lives of Egyptianə citizens are bargaining chips, even in the best-case scenario that would be Zaki's release. It could mean, for example, putting an end to any Italian claims to justice for the murder of Giulio Regeni. To claims of respect for human rights made, uselessly and too blandly, by the United Nations.

This is why Al-Sisi's Egypt is a 'safe third country' for Italy: as safe as a dictatorship that is useful for guaranteeing convenient energy and military deals, as safe as a regime that prevents democratic development in the Mediterranean through military force.

On the other hand, if the Mediterranean were to be the cradle of a new democracy, where the interests of the people living there came before those of Eni and Leonardo, how many billions of euros would be lost?

Without the sale of arms to these regimes and without the concessions for such strategic oil extractions, how could one count for anything on the current geopolitical scene? Human rights and democracy are nice words, useful for ceremonies. But then, in practice, it is better to deal with corrupt dictators than with countries where civil society can discuss and decide its own future. This applies to Egypt, as well as Libya and Tunisia.

And so it is because of this new colonialism, which sponsors and finances dictatorships, western governments and the Italian government, that Patrick and thousands more like him are being held hostage. That Julius and thousands more like him are tortured and killed.

Our heart goes out to Patrick and all the prisoners of the regime. Our solidarity goes out to him and his family. We hope he will be able to come out of this nightmare soon. For our part, we know that the fight for a democratic Mediterranean must continue. Starting from the shore where we live.

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