TANTA: The Tanta Emergency State Security Court on Monday sentenced 22 of 49 defendants to three and five years in prison for committing crimes during the protests of April 6 and 7 in Mahalla.
Five of those convicted, including 58-year-old Fawzeya Hafez El Shinnawy, were sentenced in absentia.
Defense lawyers were critical of the sentences, describing the judge’s reasoning as “contradictory.
“The reasons on which the guilty verdict was based were the same reasons for which an innocent verdict should have been handed down, lawyer Sayed Fathy told the press.
The defendants themselves reacted violently after the names of those found guilty were read out. Ahmed Hussein Mahmoud, who was given a five-year prison sentence, collapsed inside the dock.
Outside the courtroom protestors and defendants’ families condemned the sentences. Protestors chanted “corrupt government and “revolution.
The 22 defendants found guilty on the basis of their confessions, evidence and the testimony of other defendants against them received prison sentences for a range of offences: theft, assault, possession of unlicensed firearms and possession of items used as weapons.
Because the verdict was issued by an emergency state security court, it cannot be appealed.
The judge rejected all the collective charges of plotting and conspiring to commit acts of criminal damage raised against the defendants.
The prosecution alleged that the group had plotted, and conspired to commit acts of vandalism and theft.
“The defendants are a group of criminals with previous convictions and of little education, presiding judge Sayyed Wizza said.
Criticizing the verdict, lawyer Fathy said, “They did not have a ringleader capable of inciting thousands of people to demonstrate, and the call to demonstrate was in any case general and widespread throughout Egypt. The court cannot therefore hold the defendants responsible for the LE 11 million worth of damages caused in Mahalla.
“No witnesses, photos or films linking the defendants with the acts of criminal damage exist.
He regarded the verdict as a political compromise.
“This is a rotten verdict designed to please both the regime and political forces, Fathy said.
“The defendants are the scapegoats for the failure of the security forces to carry out their duties properly.
Another lawyer, Sayyed El-Fiqy called the guilty verdict issued against his client, El-Khatib Abdallah Zaky El-Naqib, “shameful.
“I presented a document to the court proving that for 10 years El-Khatib has not lived at the address the police claim he was arrested at, El-Fiqy said. “They still found him guilty.
Lawyer Ahmed Seif El-Islam said that he was “expecting the verdict and that he will be unable to assess it fully until the court’s reasoning is issued.
He said that the defense team would study the verdict and determine what next steps to take.