Trial begins for witnesses to Shaimaa al-Sabbagh’s murder for illegally protesting

The Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanors Court adjourned the trial of 17 people charged with violating the protest law for allegedly taking part in the protest in which Shaimaa al-Sabbagh was killed to May 9.

Sabbagh was killed as security forces dispersed a peaceful march in Downtown Cairo organized by the Popular Socialist Alliance, of which she was a member, on the eve of the January 25th fourth anniversary.

The alliance has reiterated that those referred to trial by the Prosecutor General were eyewitnesses to Sabbagh’s murder and had not taken part in the protest. However, when these eyewitnesses stepped forward to testify, they were charged with violating the Protest Law.

In a press conference Saturday following the court session, the Popular Socialist Alliance promised retribution for Sabbagh, vowing to prosecute those behind her murder.

The alliance is launching a campaign to repeal the Protest Law, according to Medhat al-Zahed, its acting head, who called on all other parties to join. 

The defendants in the case include Popular Socialist Alliance Part Deputy Head Zuhdi al-Shamy, lawyer Azza Soliman and leading leftist figure Ilhamy al-Merghani, among other members of the alliance. The list of defendants also included Sabbagh herself, who was later taken off the list, due to expiration of criminal charges because of her death. 

Soliman had allegedly not taken part in the organized protest, but happened to be situated in a cafe adjacent to the spot where it took place. According to the Freedom to the Brave page, Soliman had testified that Sabbagh was killed by police forces and was subsequently referred to trial.

Soliman had posted on her Facebook page following the referral saying, “Today, after being turned from a witness to a defendant, I can say that I don’t regret stepping forward to testify. No matter what the police, prosecution or the judiciary do to scare us – sometimes successfully – I still have hope.”

Malek Adly previously Mada Masr that listing Soliman in the case as a defendant was “a favor [from the prosecution] to the Interior Ministry.” 

“This is simply her punishment for testifying against the Interior Ministry,” he added.

Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat had also referred a Central Security Forces police officer to criminal prosecution in the murder of Sabbagh on charges of “beating [her] to death.”

Lawyers argue that he could be found innocent on procedural grounds since the charge is inconsistent with the technical evidence and the autopsy report, which show that she was killed by birdshot, sustaining wounds in the back that punctured her lungs and heart.

Videos also circulated showing a masked officer aiming at the Socialist Popular Alliance Party member as she fell to the ground.

No date has yet been set for his trial.  


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