Court annuls activist Douma’s life sentence and orders retrial, lawyers begin release procedures

The Court of Cassation annulled a life sentence handed to imprisoned activist Ahmed Douma in a case related to Cabinet clashes in 2011, ordering a retrial with a criminal court. Procedures have commenced for Douma’s release, lawyer Khaled Ali told Mada Masr on Thursday.

Douma appealed a life sentence handed to him in February 2015 in relation to a case involving 229 other defendants charged with illegal assembly, the acquisition of arms and assaulting police and military forces during clashes between protesters and police outside the Cabinet building in December 2011. They were also charged with burning the Institut d’Egypte and vandalizing other government buildings, including the Cabinet and Parliament buildings.

One hundred and forty-five defendants were arrested after the sentence was passed in absentia, and on July 25, 2017, 43 of them were sentenced to life and 92 were acquitted. The other defendants also have the option to appeal their sentences.

The case has been rife with controversy, with lawyers withdrawing in November 2014 over lack of due process during trial proceedings. Lawyers accused the court of misleading the witnesses, refusal to include key evidence in the case and denying defense lawyers access to documents.  

Douma was sentenced to a further three years in prison in addition to the life sentence for contempt of the court, after he clapped when controversial judge Nagy Shehata announced the ruling. In May, Douma’s appeal against this charge was accepted and a retrial is yet to be set.

The activist, one of the founders of the Kefaya and April 6 movements, has already served a three-year sentence issued in 2013 for violating the protest law. The charges stem from skirmishes that broke out by Abdeen courthouse in November that year.

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