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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Members of Egypt's constitutional committee testify in retrial of activists

Film director Khaled Youssef, onetime ONTV anchor Reem Magued and "No for Military Trials" founder Mona Seif testify on behalf of 25 defendants in the Shura Council protest case

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Sunday 14 Dec 2014
Khaled Youssef- Ragia Omran - Mona Seif
Prominent Egyptian director Khaled Youssef with Human rights lawyer Ragia Omran and with Activist Mona Seif during Sunday 14 December, 2014 Shura council court session (Photo:Aswat Masriya)
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A Cairo criminal court adjourned the trial of prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah to 20 December to listen to the prosecution’s arguments after hearing the testimonies of members of the 50 member committee that drafted the 2014 constitution and a number of other political figures for the second session in a row. 

Prominent Egyptian director and member of the 50 member committee, Khaled Youssef testified in favour of the defendants during the retrial of 25 activists jailed in the widely known "Shura Council case."

The accused, including Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a leading activist in the 2011 uprising, were sentenced to 15 years in prison in June for violating the widely criticised protest law – which bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations – assaulting a policeman and stealing his radio, inciting riots, blocking traffic and vandalising public property.

The demonstration, which took place in late November 2013 shortly after the law was passed, was initially organised to urge the 50 member panel to vote against an article that allows for the military trials of civilains.

In his testimony, Youssef stressed that the panel knew that the "No for Military Trials" group were intending to organise a protest to express their rejection of the article.

"I had informed the interior minister that arresting those protestors will have a negative result,” said Youssef

Youssef recalled that the panel were meeting inside the shura council to discuss the new amendments when they got short messages conveying that the youth organising the protest outside the council were being arrested.

"The panel decided to halt discussions until we knew the fate of those arrested," said Youssef, adding that he witnessed a group of protestors being surrounded by police forces in tattered clothing.

Youssef had voted "yes" to pass the article that allows for military trials for civilians. The vote had caused outrage back then among many actors that he was supposed to be representing as they rejected the article.

Meanwhile, prominent ONTV Anchor Reem Magued introduced herself to the court as a member of the "No for Military Trials" group, stressing that she was among those who were calling for the protest.

Activist and member of the "No to military trials" Mona Seif testified during Sunday`s session that her brother Alaa was not among those who called for the Shura council demonstration.

She told the court "No for Military Trials" members were the ones who called for the march aiming to convey their rejection to constitution article to the 50-member panel.

Seif also highlighted that she was among those briefly detained during the protest, and said she was sexually harassed by a security personnel while he was arresting her, ONA Academy reported. 

During the two sessions the court listened to the testimonies of a number of political figures who reported to the general prosecutor after the arrests, saying that they too participated in the protest and called for it including former member of parliament and member of the Social Democratic Party Ziyad El-Eleimy and Constitution Party spokesperson Khaled Dawoud.

"I witnessed tear gas being thrown by police forces, and I have also seen security forces arresting protestors," Magued told the court, denying police allegations that protestors threw stones on police forces.

Magued also refuted statements made by the police that they have released all female protesters and taken them all back to their homes.

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