The Alexandria Court of Appeals reduced on Sunday a court verdict sending Alexandrian lawyer and activist Mahienour El-Massry to prison for violating the controversial Protest Law.
The court accepted El-Massry’s appeal, reducing her prison sentence from two years to six months while upholding her EGP 50,000 fine. The sentenced lawyer has already spent two months in prison.
Before reading out the sentence, the judge ordered the evacuation of the courtroom of all those present.
The Mansheya Misdemeanour Court primarily upheld on 20 May a ruling sentencing El-Massry to two years in prison and an EGP 50,000 fine for taking part in a protest in solidarity with torture victim Khaled Said on 2 December 2013. The protest was scheduled to take place during the trial of two former police officers charged with torturing and killing Said.
During the 20 May court session, El-Massry’s lawyer was unable to put forward his defence. The lawyer was also unable to present his legal arguments to the prosecution during the investigation.
Eighteen human rights organisations condemned the imprisonment of El-Massry in a joint statement on 21 May. The organisations stressed that the Protest Law, under which El-Massry was sentenced, was issued in the absence of an elected parliament and “created especially to target and punish the opposition and those who highlight ongoing human rights violations”.
El-Massry has won this year’s Ludovic Trarieux Award on 26 June, given annually to a lawyer for contributions to the defence of human rights.
The rights lawyer was initially sentenced with eight others on 2 January by the Raml Misdemeanour Court for violating the highly controversial Protest Law. Only four of the defendants were sentenced in session. The court upheld the sentence for three of them on Sunday.
El-Massry challenged her primary verdict, since she was sentenced in absentia; her challenge was turned down and she was therefore taken into custody on 20 May.
Six charges were pressed against the group of nine defendants: protesting without prior notice, assembly, assaulting security personnel, vandalising public property and possession of unlicensed weapons.
El-Massry is also standing trial in a different court case alongside 12 other activists and lawyers, where she is accused of breaking into El-Raml police station in March 2013.