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Friday, 18 August 2017

Former head of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate Yehia Kalash appeals suspended sentence

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Friday 19 May 2017
 Kalash
File Photo: Journalists carry Yehia Kalash, head of the Egyptian press syndicate, during a protest against restrictions on the press and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt May 4, 2016 (Reuters)
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The former head of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate, Yehia Kalash, has appealed to the Court of Cassation against a one-year suspended prison sentence issued against him and Khaled El-Balshy, a former syndicate board member, and current syndicate board member Gamal Abdel-Rehim.

Tarek Negeda, a lawyer who is part of Kalash’s defence team, told Ahram Online that he submitted a report to the court on Thursday, along with three legal memos outlining the reasons for the appeal prepared by him and three other lawyers.

On 25 March, Cairo's Qasr Al-Nil Appeals Court issued a one-year suspended sentence against Kalash and the board members for harbouring fugitives inside the syndicate's headquarters.

This was a reduced prison sentence compared to the original verdict issued in November by a Cairo misdemeanour court of two years in prison for Kalash, Abdel-Rehim and El-Balshy.

This suspended sentence meant Kalash, Abdel-Rehim and El-Balshy did not serve jail time.

However, if any of the trio commits a similar offence within the next three years, as mandated by the appeals court, they would have to serve the one-year prison sentence.

"A fourth memo with new reason for appeal will be submitted next Monday, however we cannot tell when the court will decide this case," Negeda added.

"Our lawyers were drafting the appeals, and we will submit ours before the end of this week," El-Balshy told Ahram Online, referring to his appeal and that of Abdel-Rehim.

Two scenarios are expected by court, either to reject the appeal, and then the previous sentence will stay valid, or to accept the appeal, then a retrial should be held, both Negeda and El-Balshy confirmed.

The trio were accused in April 2016 of harbouring journalists Mahmoud El-Sakka and Amr Badr.

El-Sakka and Badr were among many wanted on arrest warrants for illegally protests against the Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea island maritime border agreement.

They were arrested inside the syndicate premises. They were later released on bail pending trial.

The security forces' raid on the syndicate has sparked public outrage and prompting dozens of journalists to stage a sit-in at the syndicate headquarters that lasted for more than a month.

Kalash lost the elections for the head of syndicate in March, receiving 1,890 votes compared to 2,457 votes for Abdel-Mohsen Salama, who won the position.

Similarly, El-Balshy lost his seat on the syndicate’s high board, but Abdel-Rehim was re-elected to his seat, and Badr was elected as a new board member. 

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