Alexandrian political activist Hassan Mustafa was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday. He was arrested on 21 January, accused of physically attacking a prosecutor.
Hamdy Khalaf, Mustafa’s lawyer and one of the witnesses who testified in court, said: “We were surprised with the verdict. It is an insult to lawyers.” Khalaf, alongside two other lawyers, testified in court denying that Mustafa attacked prosecutor Ahmed Darwish in their presence.
“Darwish’s medical report stated that he suffers from ‘a reddened left cheek’,” Khalaf said, adding that the report is not proof that Mustafa slapped Darwish. “The problem is not with the medical report; it’s with the prosecutor’s false accusations. This reflects all that is wrong with the Egyptian prosecution system.”
Khalaf stated that the verdict will be appealed.
Mustafa’s brother Mohamed said his family was approached by Darwish who offered to settle. “He said that this is only a primary verdict,” Mohamed said. “It can be reversed if Mustafa apologises to him.”
Mohamed denied any intention to accept Darwish’s offer. “Mustafa has done nothing to apologise for.”
Darwish made a similar offer immediately after Mustafa’s detention, Mohamed said. The first offer was also declined by Mustafa and his family.
Mahienour El-Massry, a political activist in Alexandria, said that protesters are gathering outside Al-Mansheya Court. El-Massry was with Mustafa during the incident when he allegedly attacked Darwish.
“There’s going to be a protest condemning the verdict,” she said. “People are already rallying up.”
Political activists in Cairo and Alexandria called for marches in solidarity with Mustafa Tuesday evening.
“Another march is planned to take place in Alexandria on Friday following prayers,” Mohamed said.
Mustafa allegedly slapped Darwish after going with three human rights lawyers and three activists to the Al-Mansheya Court Complex on 21 January to check on detained protesters arrested after clashes that followed the trial of police officers accused of killing protesters on 25 January. He is also facing charges of helping detainees escape imprisonment and inciting violence in Al-Mansheya.
He has gone on hunger strike twice in protest over his detention.
Mustafa is a well-known activist in Alexandria. He was first arrested on 6 April 2008, during a demonstration supporting the Mahalla workers’ strike.
Additional reporting by Sara Abou Bakr