Activists Alaa Abd El Fattah and Ahmed Abdel Rahman were sentenced to five years in prison on Monday for breaking the Protest Law when they demonstrated in front of the Shura Council in 2013.
The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced their 19 co-defendants to three years in prison, and levied an LE100,000 fine against all 21 defendants. Abd El Fattah and Abdel Rahman will also be placed under surveillance for five years, reduced to three years for the remaining defendants.
Before reading out the verdict, the judge praised his court for allocating so much time for statements from the defense. He also affirmed that the verdict was immune from any influence.
After the judge announced his ruling, the court — located at the Police Academy in the Tora prison complex — erupted as the defendants’ families chanted against military rule.
The case dates back to November 26, 2013, when security forces dispersed a protest outside the Shura Council in downtown Cairo. Demonstrators were rallying against the newly issued Protest Law, as well as against provisions in Egypt’s draft constitution facilitating the trial of civilians before military courts. Numerous activists were arrested and transported outside Cairo in police trucks. Several protesters were released in isolated locations outside the capital.
Last June, 25 people arrested in the protest were sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined LE100,000 after the first trial came to a close. They were found guilty of organizing an unauthorized protest, attacking a police officer, stealing a walkie-talkie, hooliganism, committing acts of aggression against police officers, blocking the road, crowding a public place and destroying public property.
On retrial, the only count the defendants were acquitted on was the theft charge. The judge also upheld the original 15-year sentences handed down to the four defendants who were not retried — two defendants had been sentenced in absentia, while the remaining two did not appeal.
Throughout the retrial, defense lawyers argued that the prosecution’s claims were grounded in falsified evidence and contradictory testimonies. Lawyer Malek Adly previously told Mada Masr that his team would appeal a guilty verdict before the Court of Cassation.
After the retrial began in September, the presiding judge stepped down and released Abd El Fattah, Mohamed Nouby and Wael Metwally from jail on LE5,000 bail. However, when the trial resumed the court swiftly remanded the men back into custody.
Also on Monday, the same court held a hearing in the retrial of Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, before adjourning proceedings to March 8.
On June 23, 2014, the defendants were sentenced to seven years in prison for “aiding a terrorist organization” by spreading false news. The Court of Cassation threw out the verdict and accepted their appeal on January 1. The retrial began on February 12.