Shawkan likely to be released after five years in prison

Fatma Lotfi
4 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)

Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, and 214 others are expected to be released soon after five years in prison. It comes nearly six months after the defendants’ 5-year sentence ruling issued by the Cairo Criminal Court’s in the case known as the Rabaa sit-in dispersal.

The photojournalist’s lawyer, Taher Abou Nasr, said that the prison’s management have started procedures to free the defendants, however, he said that it is not clear yet when exactly Shawkan will be freed.

“No one can be certain over the specific time of Shawkan’s release, but he is supposed to be transported to Giza police station today, then to Haram police station where he will be freed,” Abou Nasr told Daily News Egypt on Monday.

Abou Nasr added that Shawkan’s final release depends on whether the police will wait for the approval of the National Security Apparatus or not.

Meanwhile, Shawkan’s brother, Mohamed Abou Zeid, also told DNE on Monday that they are not sure whether Shawkan was transported to Giza police station or not. “Yesterday, we headed to Khalifa police station, but we could not know for sure if he left or not. But I think he was transported to Giza police station,” Abou Zeid said. He added that his family will head to Giza police station on Monday to inquire if he is there.

“Shawkan is at Khalifa police station in preparation to his transferring to Haram police station to finalise his release procedures,” another lawyer Karim Abdelrady tweeted earlier on Sunday.

In last September, the Cairo Criminal Court issued its verdict in the Rabaa sit-in dispersal. Shawkan was among more than 700 defendants in the case.

Defendants, including the photographer, were charged of “murder and membership in a banned group.”

The court sentenced 374 people to 15 years in prison, while 215 others were sentenced to five years. Shawkan was among the 215 defendants, who were expected to be released after they already spent their sentences.

The verdict also confirmed death sentence to 75 defendants, including senior members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. The court also sentenced 47 defendants to life in prison, while 23 others were handed 10 years in prison.

Shawkan’s sentence should have been ended in August 2018, Abou Nasr said. He pointed out that the independent photojournalist and the 214 were subjected to “physical coercion penalty” because they could not pay the fines issued by the court. The penalty should be spending six months in prison. “No one of them could afford to pay the fines,” Abou Nasr said.

The 215 defendants, who are expected to be freed soon, face three penalties, including preventing from running their money and properties and five years of police surveillance.

Shawkan was arrested in August 2013 while he was covering the dispersal of Rabaa sit-in of supporters of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. They were protesting against the ouster of Morsi.

The Rabaa sit-in was violently dispersed by security forces. Hundreds were arrested, most of whom are currently on trial.

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A journalist in DNE's politics section with more than six years of experience in print and digital journalism, focusing on local political issues, terrorism and human rights. She also writes features on women issues and culture.
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