The Mansoura Misdemeanour Court handed on Tuesday a suspended sentence of two years in prison to 37 students accused of violating the Protest Law.
Thirty-two defendants were released on an EGP 5,000 bail, reported the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). The remaining five students were released on an EGP 10,000 bail.
Medhat Michel, an AFTE lawyer working on the case, said that the latter group of five students was accused of inciting the protest that prompted the students’ arrest.
The 32 defendants were charged with belonging to a banned organisation (in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood), stalling traffic, blocking roads, illegal assembly, display of force, “terrorising” citizens as well as protesting without a notice, thus violating the Protest Law.
Security forces dispersed a student rally in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi on 17 December 2013, arresting the students. Michel said a large number of the defendants were randomly arrested, some of whom were not taking part in the protest at the time of their arrest.
The student protest had taken off from the University of Mansoura in Dakahleya when it overlapped with the funeral of a taxi driver who was killed by a mob the day before after driving through a pro-Morsi protest, Michel said.
Issued in late November 2013 by outgoing President Adly Mansour, the Protest Law was drafted to regulate public assembly.
The law requires that organisers of any public assembly, be it a protest, march or general meeting, submit a written notice to the nearest police station with their plans at least three working days in advance. Such a notice has often been described by rights groups as a “permit”, therefore breaching the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.