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Court upholds charges for four Alexandria detainees

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Lawyer says there is still room for appeal but it is a process that will take a very long time

An Alexandria court upheld on Sunday a January verdict of two years in prison and EGP 50,000 fine for four Alexandria detainees in the famous case that involves nine Alexandrians including prominent activist and lawyer Mahienour El-Massry.

An appeal was presented on behalf of the four, who were in attendance during the trial, said their lawyer Hamdi Khalaf.

“There is still room for appeal at the Court of Cassation but that takes a very long time,” Khalaf said.

The remaining five, including El-Massry and political activist Hassan Mustafa, were tried in absentia.  All nine were sentenced on 2 January for violating the highly controversial protest law.

They were accused of taking part in a protest organised in solidarity with torture victim Khaled Said outside the Alexandria Criminal Court on 2 December. Khalaf denied that the defendants were involved in organising the protest in question and said that one of the four who are in custody was was returning home from an exam at the time of his arrest and the other was sitting at a café when he was arrested.

They were charged with a total of six charges, including protesting without a prior notice, assembly, assaulting security personnel, vandalising public property, and possession of unlicensed weapons.

Khalaf said in January the accused were sentenced under Article 31 of the penal code, which stipulates that “if several crimes are committed for the same purpose and are interconnected they shall be considered one crime and the ruling passed shall be prescribed for the most serious of these crimes.”

Many arrests have been made since the introduction of the law, which has been widely criticised since its inception. Critics include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and a group of 17 domestic rights groups.

Renowned blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others were referred to Cairo Criminal Court on charges of blocking roads, illegal assembly, protesting without a permit, and attacking and injuring a public servant for a protest organised by No Military Trials for Civilians group in front of Shura Council on Qasr Al-Eini Street on 26 November.

Other prominent activists being tried for violating the legislation include 6 April Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher, and activists Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Adel.

The controversial legislation, which was issued by interim President Adly Mansour in November, includes strict restrictions on protests, marches and public meetings and requires a prior notice for protests at least three working days in advance. It also allows the Minister of Interior to move, change the route of or cancel assemblies.

Articles in the Protest Law also allow security forces to use water cannons, batons and teargas to disperse protesters, as well as “escalatory measures” that would include the use of rubber bullets and metal pellets.


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