An appeals court annulled the 15-year sentence handed down to the officer convicted of killing Shaimaa al-Sabbagh during a peaceful protest, granting him a retrial, state-owned Al-Ahram reported Sunday.
In June, Lieutenant Yassin Salah Eddin was sentenced to 15 years in maximum-security prison for fatally shooting Shaimaa al-Sabbagh on January 24, 2015.
Sabbagh was killed while marching with members of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party from Talaat Harb Square to Tahrir Square, carrying flowers to place on the memorial for martyrs of the 2011 revolution on the fourth anniversary of the protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. During the march, Sabbagh was shot to death by a police officer as security forces attempted to disperse the demonstrations.
As part of Salah Eddin’s defense, lawyer Farid al-Deeb argued that the protest took place under “exceptional” circumstances since it commemorated the fourth anniversary of the revolution, and that if the defendant had the intention to shoot to kill, dozens of victims would have died.
He added that the protest march did not obtain prior permission from the Interior Ministry as per the protest law, leading officers securing the square to panic.
In today’s session, the appeal court’s prosecution recommended amending the charges to “beating to death” instead of “premeditated murder.”
Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a civil rights lawyer in the case, said that the prosecution’s recommendation means “re-characterizing” the charge and reverting it back to the original one leveled against the defendant by criminal prosecution. The court had later modified the charge to premeditated murder.
The prosecution’s recommended charges are punishable by seven to 10 years in prison, Abdel Aziz added. The lawyer explained to Mada Masr that the recommendation is not binding, because unlike criminal prosecution, which questions the defendant, sends him to court and charges him, the appeals court only studies the case verdict and provides suggestions.
Following Sabbagh’s death, 17 party members were arrested on charges of violating the protest law by organizing the rally without the requisite security clearance. They were later acquitted of all charges.