Prominent Egypt activist jailed 15 years

2014-06-11 18:27
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood chant slogans as they march in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Thousands of protesters flowed out of mosques on Friday in Muslim Brotherhood-led rallies across the country against the military-backed governme

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood chant slogans as they march in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. Thousands of protesters flowed out of mosques on Friday in Muslim Brotherhood-led rallies across the country against the military-backed governme

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - An Egyptian court jailed prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, a symbol of the 2011 revolt against Hosni Mubarak, for 15 years on Wednesday for assaulting a policeman during an illegal protest.

On bail since March, he and two co-defendants were arrested immediately after the ruling as they waited to be allowed to enter the makeshift court at a Cairo police academy.

The court handed down similar sentences to 24 co-defendants, none of whom were in court, after convicting them on charges ranging from participating in an illegal protest to rioting, blocking roads and assaulting policemen, judicial sources said.

They were also fined €10 256.

Because the verdict was pronounced in absentia, Abdel Fattah will be granted a retrial, said his father Ahmed Seif, who is also his lawyer.

"According to Egyptian law, the ruling is in absentia because the defence lawyers had not presented their case," Seif told AFP.

"Alaa was not allowed to enter the court," he said, denouncing what he said was a hasty ruling issued after just a few hearings.

"We had not yet watched any of the video evidence" in the case, he said, "nor had the prosecution and defence presented their cases."

The sentencing comes just days after the swearing in of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has vowed to return Egypt to stability rather than pursue democratic freedoms.

"Sisi's presidency will not return [Egypt] to the Mubarak era; it will be worse than the Mubarak regime," Abdel Fattah himself told AFP in May.

Since Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, the authorities have waged a harsh crackdown on Morsi's supporters as well as the secular opposition.

Seif said "the real objective of such rulings... is to prevent those criticising the regime from running in the [upcoming] parliamentary elections."


The verdict triggered immediate reactions on social networks.

"Does anyone believe Egypt is on the right track? How many indications of the opposite do you need," asked one tweet.

Abdel Fattah and the others were accused of stealing a walkie-talkie from a policeman during a November protest organised to denounce increased powers given to the military in a new draft constitution.

The protest was deemed illegal under a new law that banned all but police-sanctioned demonstrations, and which has since been used to send dozens of activists to jail.

Secular activists have roundly criticised the law, saying Morsi's ouster itself was result of mass street protests against his turbulent year-long rule.

Sisi's opponents say he is bent on establishing an autocratic regime worse than that of Mubarak.

In April, an appeals court upheld three-year prison sentences for three other prominent activists. Among them was the founder of the April 6 youth movement, Ahmed Maher, charged with violating the protest law.

The 6 April group, which was also a symbol of the anti-Mubarak uprising, has been banned.

Speedy mass trials

Since Morsi's ouster, a government crackdown on Islamist supporters has left more than 1 400 dead in street clashes and seen at least 15 000 people jailed.

Hundreds have also been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials that have triggered an international outcry.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood was blacklisted as a terrorist organisation in December after authorities blamed it for bombing a police headquarters.

The group has denied any involvement in violence rocking the country since Morsi's ouster.

Meanwhile, militants have unleashed a deadly campaign against security forces that has killed nearly 500 policemen and soldiers in bombings and shootings since July.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.