Amr El-Behairy’s appeal for retrial in front of a military judiciary was accepted on Tuesday and considered a step forward for the case of the protester, who has since become an icon of the campaign against sentencing civilians in army courts.
On 1 March, 2011 the 32-year-old El-Behairy was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly attacking armed forces personnel in the early hours of 26 February, 2011 during a sit-in in front of the Cabinet building off Qasr El-Aini Street against the Mubarak-appointed cabinet of Ahmed Shafiq.
El-Behairy was originally arrested during the protest that was violently dispersed by the military police using electric shocks batons and charged with arms possession despite eyewitnesses saying the contrary.
Amr El-Behairy was in the first wave of anti-government protesters in the post-Mubarak era to be sentenced in front of a military court on the orders of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The work done on his case triggered the No To Military Trials for Civilians movement which was spearheaded by the activists who were with him during the 26 February protests. No To Military Trials has continued to campaign against these trials as well as pushing for the release of detainees and documenting the human rights abuses of those imprisoned.
El-Behairy quickly became a familiar face of the revolution, as protesters sprayed graffiti images of him and messages demanding his release,around the capital.
No less than 12,000 Egyptians have been subjected to military trials in 2011. Activists have maintained their pressure on the ruling military council to stop the trials and to refer the accused to civilian courts.