CAIRO: A Port Said court has rejected the appeal against a hefty fine handed down to a blogger convicted for defamation.
The El-Zohour Appeal Court on Tuesday upheld the LE 2,500 fine against Tamer Mabrouk issued in January as well as an order that the blogger pay LE 40,000 in civil compensation to the Trust Chemicals Company.
Last year Mabrouk published photographs on his blog, El-Hakika El-Masreyya ( The Egyptian Truth (elhakika.blogspot.com) showing the dumping of dangerous substances into the Manzallah Lake and Suez Canal.
Mabrouk also made allegations concerning working conditions inside the Trust Chemicals factory.
The conviction – the first time an Egyptian blogger has been found guilty of corporate libel – was heavily criticized by rights groups.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) questioned the legal basis of the verdict which they said was “overly harsh.
In a joint statement issued yesterday by ANHRI and the Mosawah Association for Human Rights in Port Said, the two rights groups said that the appeal court’s ruling “dealt an illogical and severe blow to the case in which all the facts proved the fairness and validity of [Mabrouk s] position.
“The law had no role in this case . the law has been marginalized like many other politicized cases . Tamer Mabrouk has been subjected to a gross injustice, as he did not violate the law, the statement reads.
The verdict was also condemned by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) who are calling for the conviction to be quashed.
“Mabrouk’s appeal hearing was rushed through and his case was not examined, RSF says in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“The fine that has been imposed is an insult to free expression. It is clearly designed to ruin him and to deter him from expressing his views or taking any position.
ANHRI and Mosawah say that “many members of parliament have called for an investigation into Trust Chemicals because of the “serious dangers posed by the waste-dumping practices alleged by both Mabrouk and “many newspapers, both opposition and state-controlled.
Mabrouk has not stopped his online campaign against Trust Chemicals and continues to post criticism of the company.
“I will continue what I started, and will not stand helpless against the influence of this company which threatens our lives and oppresses its workers, Mabrouk is quoted as saying in the statement.
The Trust Chemicals Company was purchased by India s Sanmar Group in March 2007.