A prison sentence in the “Shura Council protests” case ranging between three and seven years is expected, rights lawyer Yasmine Hossam said Sunday, ahead of the verdict expected Monday morning.
The case involves high-profile activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others.
“At least nine human rights lawyers make the defence team in the case that has over 300 documents,” Hossam told Daily News Egypt. Hossam is the defence lawyer for activist Mohamed Abdul Rahman “Noubi”.
The verdict she said was expected Monday comes in accordance with penalties stated in the Protest Law issued in 2013. The controversial law set a maximum of seven years and an EGP 300,000 fine for charges of violent acts during protests, or the possession of weapons.
The case’s controversial aspects include defence accusations that the prosecution’s argument was not supported by evidence. These include claims that Abdel Fattah assaulted security officer Emad Tahoun, beat him and stole his walkie-talkie. Other unclear points include the sudden introduction of new evidence in a January session by the prosecution, which the judge in the case, Hassan Farid, accepted, despite the defence’s objection.
Court sessions were disordered, with police eyewitnesses, including Tahoun himself, failing to answer most questions by the judge and defence lawyers regarding the exact timing and location of the alleged assault.
Their answers were either: “I can’t remember”, “You can refer to the original investigations” and others that often contradicted their colleagues’, according to lawyers and political activists who attended trial sessions and provided live updates via Twitter accounts. Lawyer Taher Aboul Nasr even concluded that the police report Tahoun filed against Abdel Fattah was forged.
According to Hossam, prosecution authorities “preferred to focus on charging the defendants with non-peaceful assembly”, after failing to make a case confirming that protesters attacked police forces.
The trial has been repeatedly postponed since July 2014 after a date was set for a retrial. Before the hearing started, Abdel Fattah and the rest were handed a jail term of 15 years, as the court ruling came in absentia.
This came despite the fact that some of the defendants, including Abdel Fattah and Noubi, who were also later arrested after the verdict, had presented themselves before court the same day and were denied entry. The incident was repeated later on, when Abdel Fattah and Noubi obtained a release pending trial in September, following the jury’s withdrawal.
Later in October, when Abdel Fattah went to attend the first trial session with new judges, he was held in custody once again. His family, who is also in grief over the imprisonment of his younger sister Sanaa, led a hunger strike campaign in solidarity with ‘prisoners of conscience.’