Press conference held in Cairo against 'Shura Council' court verdict

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Jun 2014

On Wednesday, 25 activists were sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges related to a protest outside the Shura Council last November

Ahmed Seif El-Islam - center - Press conference against the detention political activists (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

A press conference was held at Cairo's Journalists' Syndicate on Thursday to denounce a recent court verdict against 25 activists accused in what is known as the "Shura Council" trial.

On Wednesday, the defendants were sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges including arranging an illegal protest, rioting and assaulting policemen.

The convictions stem from a protest that the defendants participated in last November outside the Shura Council in central Cairo to denounce military trials for civilians. The gathering was deemed illegal due to a recently-passed protest law banning all demonstrations not pre-approved by authorities.

"We are heading towards a path against the arms of tyranny that has been joined by the judiciary, prosecution and the media," said lawyer Ahmed Seif El-Islam, who is the father of one of the defendants, the well-known activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

El-Islam delivered his comments in front of a huge banner reading: "The fall of the justice state".

Also present was lawyer Taher Abou El-Nasr, who explained that the 26 November 2013 protest, during which the majority of defendants were arrested, had already been scheduled before the issuing of the protest law and "before the means of its implementation had been clarified yet".

He further complained that Abdel-Fattah, who was arrested three days after the protest, was detained for 100 days before he was sent to trial.

Abdel-Fattah's aunt, the prominent novelist Ahdaf Soueif, said that the coming days will also witness more protests.

Meanwhile, around 30 supporters of recently-elected president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi were present outside the syndicate's steps – where the press conference was originally set to take place – for an anti-sexual harassment protest.

However, an Ahram Online reporter at the scene said that the demonstration was eventually dominated by chants against activists like Abdel-Fattah and the now-outlawed April 6 Youth Movement.

Lawyer Mohamed Abdel-Aziz – who was briefly detained following the Shura Council protest – raised another issue during the press conference.

"Incidents of sexual assault are occupying public opinion at the moment, and the time has come to say that the public prosecution has been ignoring all reports of harassment against activists," Abdel-Aziz said, explaining that several women from the No to Military Trials campaign were sexually harassed during the "Shura Council" protest by a police officer.

The press conference was called by seven rights and freedoms groups and organisations. It was followed by a brief demonstration against the detention of political activists and the protest law.

(Photo: Mai Shaheen)


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