The Qasr Al-Nil Misdemeanour Court Saturday sentenced 15 defendants to two years of labour and an EGP 50,000 fine for charges relating to public assembly.
The 15 defendants are part of a group of 33 detainees arrested from a public park in downtown Cairo during the second day of the constitutional referendum. The remaining 18 defendants, all minors, were acquitted by the Abbaseya Juvenile Court on Monday.
The 33 detainees had been holding a meeting in the park to discuss preparations for the third anniversary of the 2011 revolution, said Ahmed Al-Damshiti, lawyer for Al-Haqanya Rights Centre, who is representing the detainees. They are all members of the Ultras Revolutionary group.
They are accused of violating the newly passed Protest Law, the 1914 assembly law and the Penal Code on charges relating to illegal assembly, “thuggery”, and “breaching public security and endangering the lives or interests of citizens. Some of the detainees were randomly arrested, Al-Damshiti said. He denied allegations that they were practicing any form of “rioting” at the time of their arrests.
During the trial, the eye-witness policemen provided contradicting testimonies as to the location of the 33 detainees’ arrest, Al-Damshiti said. The Ultras Revolutionary members were arrested when in possession of drums, scarves and clothes with the name of the group on them; none were arrested while in possession of weapons.
The trial session took place at Tora Prison rather than the Qasr Al-Nil Court, which was in violation of the law, Al-Damshiti said. He said he plans to appeal the court’s decision Sunday.
Detainees arrested during political protests have been complaining recently of ill-treatment inside detention facilities. Ayat Hamada, a female freshman at Al-Azhar University who was arrested after protesting students’ detention on 28 December, detailed the conditions of her detention in a personal statement following her release last week.
Hamada said she was physically and verbally assaulted during and after her arrest. She accused policemen of planting birdshot pellets inside her bag and those of other female protesters before later accusing one of possession of birdshot. She said the female detainees were subjected to pregnancy tests and threatened with virginity tests.
Ministry of Interior Spokesman Hany Abdel Latif denied all Hamada’s accusations, which he said were up to the prosecution to investigate.
Of the 1,079 people the Ministry of Interior arrested during the 2011 revolution’s third anniversary on 25 January, at least 79 are being held at Abou Zaabal Prison. All 79 have reported being subjected to torture, their lawyer Mahmoud Belal said. They faced prosecution again on Saturday, with no decision regarding their detention being issued at time of print.
Additional reporting by AbdelHalim H. AbdAllah