Court finally acquits last policeman accused of killing January 25 protesters

Egypt’s Appeals Court has upheld a decision to acquit policeman Mohamed Abdel Moneim Ibrahim, known as Mohamed “al-Sunni,” charged with killing protesters outside Zawiya Al-Hamra police station on January 28, 2011.

Saturday’s verdict is final, as the case had reached the final stage of litigation in front of the Appeals Court.

Al-Sunni was one of the first police personnel to be tried for killing the protesters during January 25 revolution, and the only one convicted. Convicted in May 2011, he was sentenced in absentia to death for killing 18 protesters and injuring three others, and received another life sentence on similar charges in related case. He was then retried upon turning himself in.

In May 2012, a criminal court reduced the death sentence to five years in prison, and acquitted him in the other case. He later went to the Appeals Court, his appeal was accepted and he was granted a retrial in front of another constituency in the criminal court.

In this retrial, his defense team presented photos alleged to show Zawiya al-Hamra police station on fire, with weapons and prisoners being brought out of it, as well as two dead police personnel.

Al-Sunni and his lawyer argued that Al-Sunni was acting in self-defense and only intended to disperse the protesters by firing into the air. They also claimed that he was scapegoated for the sake of Interior Ministry generals and senior police officers. The court acquitted him.

The prosecution then appealed, and the appeal was accepted. Resulting in today’s verdict, this was the last stage of trial, as the Appeals Court, Egypt’s supreme litigation authority, looks by itself into the case.

A series of trials against police personnel on charges of killing protesters began in Egyptian courts over the past five years, but all ended with acquittals. Former President Hosni Mubarak, former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six of his security aides were also charged of killing the protesters.

In June 2012, Mubarak and Adly were sentenced to life, while the six aides were acquitted, before the sentences were appealed and all of them were acquitted.

Around 850 protesters are estimated to have been killed during the 18-day mass uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak, and over 3,000 injured.

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