Egypt court releases hunger-striking activist

2014-09-15 14:47
Prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah stands in a defendants cage during a court hearing in Cairo. (Ravy Shaker, El Shorouk, AP)

Prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah stands in a defendants cage during a court hearing in Cairo. (Ravy Shaker, El Shorouk, AP)

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Cairo - An Egyptian court on Monday released on bail one of the country's best-known democracy activists who is standing retrial after he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for organising an illegal protest.

The judge overseeing the retrial of Alaa Abdel-Fattah stepped down at the request of defence lawyers.

Abdel-Fattah, who received a 15-year jail sentence in June, is on hunger strike along with dozens of other prisoners. He was accused of assaulting a policeman and engaging in hooliganism during a protest last November.

Abdel-Fattah and the 24 other defendants were entitled to an automatic retrial because the judge had sentenced them in absentia.

The November protest demanded a constitutional ban on civilians being tried by military courts. Police broke it up under a controversial law restricting demonstrations passed days earlier.

Since the passing of the law, Egyptian authorities have widened their crackdown on dissent, targeting secular activists as well as the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

A number of Egypt's most prominent democracy activists have been jailed under the new law, having refused to seek police permission for protests.

On Saturday leading members of seven political parties held a symbolic one day hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees.

Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  egypt

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