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Twenty-three detainees arrested last Saturday while marching to Ettehadiya Presidential Palace were referred to trial today; the first court session has been scheduled for June 29.

They face charges of vandalism and violating the Protest Law issued in November, which they were protesting against. The law stipulates that permission from a police station is required before demonstrating.

The march was attacked by thugs accompanied by police officers on Saturday as it headed to the presidential palace to demand the annulment of the Protest Law.

Twenty-three of those initially arrested remain detained under investigation and were referred to trial on Wednesday. Among seven girls in the group are 20-year-old activist Sanaa Seif, whose brother Alaa Abd El Fattah is serving a 15-year sentence in absentia for similar chargers, and human rights researcher Yara Sallam.

Marwa Farouk, a lawyer who attended the investigations with the defendants, told Mada Masr that the fast referral is highly exceptional in comparison to other similar cases, which took weeks or months to be referred to court. She says it is unclear whether this is to assist the implementation of justice or whether there is an intention to issue a fast verdict against the protesters. Several harsh sentences have been issued recently in protest-related cases.

According to state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, another 91 cases relating to protests were referred to court today from Al-Marg and Matariya prosecutions, indicating an inclination for prosecutors to wipe their hands of protest cases, Farouk says.

In several recent cases, detainees have remained in detention for months without facing formal charges.

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