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Mohammed al-Attar is accompanied by police officers while leaving the opening of his trial at a Cairo court on Saturday. ((Amr Nabil/Associated Press))

The trial of a 31-year-old Egyptian-Canadian charged with spying for Israel resumed in Cairo Wednesday amid a fractious courtroom scene where media and the accused shouted at the judge.

CBC's Peter Armstrong, who's covering the trial of Mohammed Essam Ghoneium al-Attar, said dozens of journalists and television crews disrupted proceedings by shouting questions at the judge.Al-Attar also shouted, trying to get the attention of Judge Sayyad al-Gohari to press claims that he was tortured by the Egyptian police to confess to being an Israeli spy.

"He was bellowing out his innocence, saying that the police beat him and made him drink his own urine" Armstrong said.

Al-Attar also said he wanted Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene in his case. Consular officials from the Canadian embassy in Cairo were in the courtroom Wednesday but did not comment when questioned by journalists.

Al-Attar was arrested in Cairo at the beginning of this year when he was in Egypt visiting his family.

Prosecution documents allege al-Attar was recruited by Israeli intelligence in Turkey to spy on Egyptian nationals living abroad. The Egyptian authorities said al-Attar came to Canada in 2003and provided information to Israel on a number of Arabs living here. Israel denies the allegations.

In an earlier court appearance, al-Attar said he had been held in solitary confinement and tortured for four weeks before confessing to crimes he didn't commit.

First lawyer quit

Al-Attar's first defence lawyer resigned at the beginning of his trial this month, saying he believed his client was guilty of treason. His new lawyer asked the court to delay proceedings so he could become more familiar with the case.

The judge agreed and the trial is to resume in late March.

CBC's Armstrong said there's an overwhelming feeling in Egypt that al-Attar would be found guilty. A conviction carries a jail sentence of 25 years in prison with hard labour.

Egypt's government has also issued arrest warrants for three Israeli nationals, accusing them of recruiting and training al-Attar as a spy.