Three high profile activists have been given a three-year prison sentence and a fine of LE50,000 in a speedy trial that lasted less than a month.
Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, members of the April 6 Youth Movement, and Ahmed Douma, were found guilty of crimes under the recently-passed Protest Law, a controversial piece of legislation that criminalizes political gatherings of more than ten people not authorized by the police.
The Abdeen Misdemeanors Court found the three men guilty of attacking the police and police property, use of force against the police and protesting in violation of the provisions of the Protest Law and Thuggery Law.
The charges relate to skirmishes that broke out outside the Abdeen Courthouse at the end of November, when Maher went to hand himself in pursuant to a summons he had received following a demonstration outside the Shura Council on November 26, 2013, which was violently broken up by the police. At least 51 were arrested, including Maher and another activist, Alaa Abd El Fattah, accused of calling for the protest.
Abd El Fattah was arrested on November 28 when police broke into his home and assaulted his wife, Manal Bahey Eddin Hassan. He is currently in detention awaiting trial on criminal charges, which carry heavier sentences than misdemeanors.
Lawyer Amr Imam from the Hisham Mubarak Law Center told Mada Masr that crimes under the Thuggery Law were added to the charges against the men so that they could be imprisoned. Ismail added that the prosecution’s pleadings were contradictory because the prosecutor simultaneously acknowledged that Maher was at Abdeen in order to turn himself in and accused him of attacking the police.
Imam has no explanation as to why Abd El Fattah is being tried in a criminal court for the same charges other than, “the authorities wanting to punish and imprison activists.”
April 6 Youth Movement condemned the court verdict in a press conference on Monday, deeming it as a flagrant violation of civil freedoms and human rights.
The movement also declared its rejection of the roadmap designed by the military leaders following Morsi’s ouster, describing it as a “comic play” that has become meaningless and invaluable after “convicting three of the symbols of January 25 revolution through an oppressive protest law.”
The Revolution Path Front, a coalition formed to oppose both the military and the Brotherhood, has called for a protest on Monday against the imprisonment of Maher, Douma and Adel.