High profile activists' retrial underway in Cairo

Ahram Online , Wednesday 10 Sep 2014

Twenty-five defendants, including Alaa Abdel-Fattah, received 15-year jail terms at a trial in June over an illegal protest at the Shura Council in November 2013

Surrounded by plainclothes policemen, Egyptian prominent blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, left, speaks to the crowd after attending, with his sister Sanaa, right, their father Ahmed Seif funeral in Cairo, Egypt, 28 August 2014. (Photo: AP)

The retrial of Alaa Abdel-Fattah and 24 other political activists is underway at a criminal court in Cairo.

Family members, friends and activists gathered outside the court on Wednesday in solidarity with the defendants.

Abdel-Fattah's mother, human rights activist Laila Soueif and his sister Mona Seif – who are both on hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees – entered the court to attend the session, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

All the defendants received a 15-year jail term in June, in absentia, and were ordered to pay a fine of LE100,000 for rioting, destruction of public property and using violence against security forces.

However, only three of the defendants are in prison: Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (Noubi) and Wael Metwally were arrested outside the court when the verdict was delivered. In August, they began a hunger strike to protest their convictions.

The three detained activists, Abdel-Fattah, Nouby and Metwally, will remain in jail while the rest of defendants were released pending trial.

The rest were never arrested and seven of them have started a sit-in and hunger strike at the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) to demand the revocation of the protest law and the release of all political detainees, among other demands.


Abdel-Fattah and 24 others were tried in relation to a protest held last November at the Shura Council to denounce an article in the new constitution allowing civilians to be tried by military courts.

The verdict in June caused uproar among rights activists, who called for the immediate release of Abdel-Fattah and the others as well as for the abolition of the new protest law, which they deem restrictive.

Meanwhile, families and friends of detained and imprisoned activists said on Sunday that they would gradually begin a hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees.

In total, there are 66 political detainees and prisoners on a hunger strike in Egyptian prisons.

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