April 6 Youth Movement founders Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, along with activist Ahmed Douma, have reportedly been sentenced to six months in absentia for allegedly assaulting police officers during their trial in 2013, according to Douma’s wife Nourhan Hefzy.
The three renowned activists are already serving a three-year sentence for organizing an unauthorized protest and vandalizing public property.
Hefzy told Mada Masr she found out about the sentence while visiting Douma on Saturday, explaining that it dates back to a scuffle that erupted between the three activists and police forces guarding them during their trial in 2013.
At the time, the three handcuffed activists told the judge they were assaulted by a group of police officers, and insisted on filing a complaint against the lawyers. The officers in turn filed a similar complaint against the activists.
“This is the case where they are tried in absentia, why is that, given their known location?” Hefzy questioned.
Egyptian law enables political pardons for prisoners who’ve served half their sentences with good conduct. A campaign was launched by activists and rights organizations for the release of the three activists, as news reports started referring to the possibility of new presidential pardons for the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution.
Hefzy said her husband rejected signing a document informing him about the sentence. She accused national security of intervening to press the charges against them to prevent any possibility of their release. She also accused the prosecution of complicity in issuing the sentence in absentia and ignoring their claims of torture. She added that Douma wanted to start another hunger strike, but she convinced him not to, so his health wouldn’t deteriorate. Douma demanded an investigation into the case against them, as well as their allegations of assault, and a visit to the prison by the National Council for Human Rights, according to Hefzy.
“Maher and Adel are being jailed for two years on fabricated charges and are being deprived of their right to a pardon for nothing but being enemies of security bodies,” Hefzy explained, adding, Douma is not just a number, and the fact that he is already serving a sentence for a total of 31 years does not mean he should be sentenced to an additional six months to stop the release of his colleagues.”
Yasmine Hossam Eddin, Douma’s lawyer, said she also received the news of his sentence from Hefzy, and is yet to confirm it with the Prison Authority. She told Mada Masr that the fact they were sentenced in absentia leaves room for an appeal, although she believes the sentence was handed down in absentia on purpose so Adel and Maher are not eligible for a presidential pardon. She intends to inquire about the case and the verdict, which she considers “unacceptable.”
Besides taking legal measures against the verdict, Eddin said there is a need for “political measures,” against the “unyielding authorities,” which use the law against defendants rather than to protect them.
Douma and 229 others were sentenced last February to life in prison in the cabinet clashes case, and fined LE17 million collectively for damages to the scientific institute.