34 Morsi supporters given 17 years in jail for violating protest law

Ahram Online, Thursday 18 Sep 2014

Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi sentenced by Fayoum court in absentia for violent events in January

An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced in absentia 34 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to 17 years in jail for unauthorised protests.

The court of the southern city of Fayoum also sentenced three others to three years in prison on charges of holding illegal demonstrations, rioting and using force against security personnel.

The case is linked to violent events that took place in January of this year.

Morsi supporters held near-daily protests after his ouster last summer, calling for his reinstatement and defying authorities. However, their numbers have declined sharply.

A disputed protest law was passed in November that banned all demonstrations not pre-approved by authorities, with hefty prison terms and fines for violators.

Local and international rights groups have criticised the law as being too restrictive. The government insists the law is necessary to return order to the country's chaotic streets after months of protests.

Several other non-Islamist activists have also been detained and are facing trials for breaching the protest law.

On Thursday, the government, facing criticism from rights groups locally and internationally, ruled out the possibility of amending the law, despite initial reports suggesting that it would be amended shortly.

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