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Egypt court overturns jail terms against Al-Azhar students, orders retrial

Ahram Online , Saturday 15 Oct 2016
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Egypt's Court of Cassation overturned on Saturday jail sentences against 24 Al-Azhar students convicted of vandalism and rioting at the university's Mansoura campus in 2015.

The 24 defendants were convicted by a criminal court in 2015 on numerous charges including a show of force, thuggery and assaulting police officers and citizens.

They were also convicted of using Molotov cocktails during their protests as well as joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

Saturday's decision comes following successful appeals by the defence, with a retrial ordered by the court, though it is yet unknown whether the students will be released pending trial.

Al-Azhar University, which is part of Al-Azhar Institute – considered the world’s highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning – saw frequent clashes between supporters of president Mohamed Morsi and security forces in the months following his 2013 ouster.

Many students were expelled by Al-Azhar's high board over their participation in protests that turned violent in 2013.

Most of the expulsions were later overturned by Egypt's Administrative Court, which said it was safeguarding students' educational future and welfare.

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