The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced police officer Mahmoud Sobhy Al-Shennawy to three years in prison on Monday in what is known as the “Eye Sniper” case.
Al-Shennawy, a first lieutenant with the Central Security Forces (CSF), was charged with attempted murder of peaceful protesters after videos emerged of him shooting protesters during the November 2011 clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud street.
In the videos Al-Shennawy is shown deliberately targeting protesters and shooting buckshot rounds at their eyes as CSF conscripts cheered him on.
Prosecutors charged him with intentionally targeting eyes, which lead to permanent injuries of several protesters.
Attempted murder carries a much lighter sentence than actual murder, explained Ahmed Ezzat, lawyer and head of the legal unit at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
“The verdict depends on what prosecutors have actually charged him with. If it was just attempted murder and not causing permanent injury then he would get a lighter sentence,” added Ezzat.
Article 240 of the Egyptian Penal Code states that “causing the amputation or loss of an organ rendering it useless or causing blindness or the loss of one or both eyes or causing permanent injury” carries a three- to five-year prison sentence.
Furthermore, “if this beating or wounding is premeditated” then the accused can be sentenced up to ten years in prison with hard labour.
Clause 2 of the same article adds that “if the crime was committed in order to carry out an act of terrorism” then the sentence shall be no less than five years of prison and hard labour. If the incident leads to death of the victim it becomes life in prison with hard labour.
Al-Shennawy has the right to appeal the verdict and if his appeal is accepted, he will either receive a reduced sentence or have the current one reaffirmed.
However, if the public prosecution appeals the verdict, they can have him retried for different charges, which could lead to a harsher sentence.
Al-Shennawy was arrested in November 2011, serving 14 months of his three-year sentence.