Pierre Wassef - Egypt
I can't imagine how he must feel – in another country, in a strange prison system where you can't communicate. He must feel so cut off, so isolated... - Sue Wassef, Pierre's mother
Pierre, a young British citizen from London, was arrested in Egypt in October 2007 while staying with his father who had grown ill. Pierre has reported that he and his younger brother, Philippe, who was arrested with him, were severely mistreated, threatened by the police and denied food and water during their two-day interrogation. Despite requesting the presence of a lawyer, this was denied. Exhausted and weak, and being told that his younger brother would be given the death penalty, Pierre was coerced into confessing to the importation and sale of large quantities of cocaine. 4 days after his arrest, Egyptian authorities allowed news cameras to film Pierre at the prison and label him as a drug trafficker, before he had even seen a judge, in flagrant violation of the principle of the presumption of innocence.
Despite the fact that he was in custody at the time, Pierre was not even taken to court for his trial. Pierre was tried, convicted and sentenced to a 25-year prison term, in his absence and at an unfair trial where basic defence safeguards were ignored. Pierre appealed against his conviction and sentence and was granted a retrial but his sentence of 25 years in prison was upheld. Pierre intends to appeal this conviction. Pierre has a partner and three children but Egyptian prison officials will not allow him to speak to them.
Last updated: 17 August 2012