A statement by Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on its Facebook page Tuesday night announcing its decision to refer last month’s Maspero clashes and the 19/20 November Tahrir Square clashes to general prosecutors – rather than military ones – has raised hopes for the speedy release of detained blogger Alaa Abdel-Fatah.
Abdel-Fatah, who has been accused of inciting violence during the 9 October Maspero clashes, will accordingly be referred to Egypt’s general prosecution, along with other civilian defendants in the case. There is some speculation that Abdel-Fatah could be released as soon as Thursday.
Abdel-Fatah refused to cooperate with military prosecutors in opposition to the longstanding practice of referring civilians to military courts. The activist has also voiced criticism of the SCAF’s decision to launch a military investigation of the Maspero clashes, despite the direct involvement of military police in the melee.
Abdel-Fatah’s mother, university professor and political activist Laila Soueif, declared a hunger strike more than two weeks ago to demand the immediate release of her son. Meanwhile, Abdel-Fatah’s wife, Manal Hassan, is expected to give birth to the couple’s first child on Thursday.