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Judge pauses illegal protest case until constitutional court rules on law

Ahram Online, Saturday 27 Sep 2014
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People protest to mark the one-year anniversary of fatal clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, near the Interior Ministry in Cairo November 20, 2012 (Reuters)
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An Egyptian judge on Saturday postponed a verdict against eight Muslim Brotherhood members accused of involvement in an illegal demonstration until the constitutionality of the protest law is determined by the country's highest court.

The decision by the Minya Criminal Court is unusual, given that Egyptian courts have convicted many defendants on charges of breaking the controversial law since it was promulgated last November.

The law bans protests that have not received prior clearance from the police, and imposes jail sentences or fines on violators. Hundreds have been jailed under its provisions, including a number of prominent opponents of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s government.

A number of lawsuits have been filed against the law on the basis that it is not constitutional.

The Supreme Constitutional Court has agreed to hear a challenge to two articles in law in November in a suit filed by a number of lawyers, including renowned human rights lawyer Khaled Ali.

The suit questions the constitutionality of Article 8, which stipulates that organisers of protests must submit the names of protesters, their addresses and contact details, and the slogans that will be used at the demonstration in order for the police to approve the event. The constitution states that protest organisers need only “serve a notification (to the authorities) as regulated by law.”   

The suit also challenges Article 10 of the law which states that protests cannot disturb the flow of work, which potentially renders strikes illegal. The constitution guarantees the right to strike.

The Minya court adjourned the case until December.

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