Egyptian activist Abdel Fattah returns to prison

An Egyptian court detained leading activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 20 others pending a retrial on charges of breaking a law that seeks to curb protests

Egyptian activist Abdel Fattah returns to prison

World Bulletin/News Desk

An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the detention of prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah and 25 other activists at the first session of their retrial in which they are accused of illegal protesting, judicial sources have said.

Last month, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered the release of Abdel-Fattah and all his co-defendants after more than three months in detention on charges of violating Egypt's protest law, with presiding judges recusing themselves from the case.

At the first session of the retrial with new judges, the court ordered all defendants – one of whom is being tried in absentia – put back in jail, and adjourned the trial to November 11.

All 25 defendants in custody appeared in the glass dock and chanted slogans against "military rule."

Abdel-Fattah, who played a role opposing ousted presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi, along with the 25 other activists, has been accused of assaulting police and staging an unlicensed protest.

The demonstration in question was staged in November to protest Egypt's longstanding practice of trying civilians before military courts and new legislation criminalizing street protests.

Abdel-Fattah's younger sister, Sanaa, was sentenced on Sunday, along with 22 activists, to three years each on similar charges. The Cairo Misdemeanor Court, which released the verdict, also fined the activists 10,000 Egyptian pounds each (roughly $1,400).

Egypt's protest law has come under fire since it was approved in November. The protest legislation, issued by former military-backed interim president Adly Mansour, stipulates that protest organizers submit written notification to the Interior Ministry three days before staging a demonstration.

The law gives the Interior Ministry the right to deny organizers permission if the planned demonstration is deemed a "threat to security or public safety" or if security conditions are found to be "inappropriate."

The law also authorizes security forces to use force to disperse demonstrators.

According to the law, violators can either be fined or imprisoned – penalties that have provoked the ire of many Egyptian politicians and activists, who say the legislation curbs freedoms and gives police free rein to bar popular protest.

Egyptian authorities continue to deny that any political detainees are being prosecuted, insisting that all those currently held face criminal charges.

Last Mod: 27 Ekim 2014, 16:25
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