Shawkan’s first trial session set for 12 December

Nourhan Fahmy
3 Min Read
Shawkan was arrested whilst he covered the security forces’ dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Squares sit-ins in August 2013 (Photo from Freedom for Shawkan)

The Cairo Appeal Court has set 12 December as the date of the first trial session in the case known as the “Rabaa dispersal”, in which imprisoned photojournalist Shawkan is a defendant.

Many Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members have also been charged in the case, according to defence lawyer Ahmed Abdel Naby.

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, is accused of belonging to a banned group, murder and attempted murder.

The photojournalist was arrested on 14 August, 2013, while covering the violent dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adaweya as an assignment given to him by photo agency Demotix.

More than two years later, Shawkan is still detained in Tora Prison despite having exceeded the pre-trial detention limit, which is set at two years for crimes with strict penalties, such as death sentences or life imprisonment.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) filed a report to the Prosecutor General on Tuesday demanding Shawkan’s release since his detention period has legally come to an end, according to article 143 of the Code of Criminal Procedures.

“In case the prosecution does not meet the demands to release Shawkan, the network’s defence team will follow all necessary legal procedures against the prosecution, as an executive authority that abstained from ordering the release,” read ANHRI’s statement.

The human rights network also called on the prosecution to take another look at the court papers with regards to Shawkan and revise the charges levelled against him, since there is no evidence to support the charges.

Previously, Shawkan’s defence team submitted several requests demanding his release once the legal term for his pre-trial detention ended, but to no avail.

Member of the defence team, Ahmed Abdel Naby, told the Journalists Against Torture observatory that the defence team remains unable to access key documents related to the case, including the order of referral.

Abdel Naby denounced such measures and questioned the lawyers’ ability to attend trial sessions without having access to key documents and the order of referral of their client.

Shawkan has so far spent 763 days in total behind bars, 33 days of which were spent beyond the legal limit of the pre-trial detention.


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