Cairo: Egypt's military has pressed ahead with promotion of a fanciful device it claims can diagnose and cure AIDS and hepatitis, announcing that it would be tested in the next six months on larger numbers of patients in army hospitals.
The military's supposedly miraculous medical device - a metal gizmo that has been described as resembling a kitchen hand mixer - drew wide ridicule when it was unveiled in February as the invention of an army general. Even a science adviser to the then-interim president, Adly Mansour, said the claim it cures viruses had no scientific basis.
Nonetheless, at a news conference on Saturday, with only selected Egyptian news media outlets allowed to attend, officials again said that it had already successfully treated some patients and that the device would now be used on 160 more for testing purposes over the next six months. Egypt has an extremely high rate of hepatitis C, which is generally considered to be among the most serious of the hepatitis viruses.
As the military was trumpeting its alleged medical breakthrough, a court in the coastal city of Alexandria adjourned until next month the appeal of a human rights campaigner and lawyer who had been sentenced to two years in jail for violating a tough anti-protest law that took effect late last year. From the defendant's cage, Mahienour al-Massry unleashed defiant chants as she was taken back to jail.
By official admission, about 16,000 government opponents are behind bars, with the figure estimated by rights activists as being far higher. Egypt's courts in recent months have emerged as a prime enforcer of the government's harsh crackdown on dissents - primarily moving against supporters of the Brotherhood, but also taking aim at secular figures such as Ms Massry.
Many of these court cases have been internationally denounced as lacking any semblance of fairness or due process. In the weeks after President Sisi's inauguration, a court upheld a mass death sentence for 183 defendants, and another judge sentenced Al Jazeera English reporter Australian Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges. A third man in the trial, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, received a ten year sentence for possessing ammunition - a single spent bullet casing picked up as a souvenir, his employer said.
The journalists' sentencing on Monday sparked an outcry from Western governments and rights groups, but President Sisi said the next day he would not "interfere" with actions of the judiciary.