Residents of Arab Abu Said in al-Saff, Giza, have been cleared of thuggery charges stemming from a 2013 court case, filed by the Helwan Fertilizers Company.
A group of area residents, led by Khaled Abu Said, staged protests and a sit-in against the company, complaining that Helwan Fertilizers’ factory was releasing ammonia gas and other pollutants into the area.
Ammonia, a common ingredient in fertilizers, can contribute to respiratory and heart diseases, and has particularly strong effects on children.
In response, the company, led by president of the Board of Directors Adel al-Danaf, filed thuggery charges against the protestors, under penal code provisions made under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The Habi Center for Environmental Rights and other rights NGOs have been supporting the protestors since the case was filed.
According to a press release by the Habi Center, the Saff Misdemeanor Court issued a November 29 ruling clearing the residents of all charges, saying they exercised their right to peacefully protest and demand their rights to a clean environment.
The case predates Egypt’s current Protest Law, which severely restricts the right to even peaceful demonstrations. Under the current law, organizers of any public meetings must notify authorities in advance, and demonstrators who impact public services, transportation or traffic can be imprisoned for two to five years.