Defence witnesses start testimonies in trial of 25 activists

Ahram Online , Thursday 11 Dec 2014

Cairo Criminal Court on Thursday heard the defence of witnesses, including members of the 50 member 2014 constitutional drafting committee

Gamila Ismail
Gamila Ismail testifies on behalf of Alaa Abdel-Fattah and co-defendants (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Defence witnesses in the retrial of 25 activists have argued that an unauthorised protest over which the defendants were sentenced to jail was forcibly dispersed by police.

The accused, including Alaa Abdel-Fattah leading activist in the 2011 uprising, were sentenced to 15 years in prison in June for violating the widely criticised protest law which bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations, assaulting a policeman and stealing his radio, inciting riots, blocking traffic and vandalising public property.

A Cairo criminal court on Thursday adjourned the trial to 14 December. 

The court heard  testimonies from witnesses including members of a committee that drew up the country's new constitution : Literature Professor Hoda El-Sadda and head of  the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Mohamed Abul Ghar.

The pair, who was convening at the time at the Shura Council to write the country's constitution, said they were told police used force to break up the demonstrations, even though they did not witness the incident.The demonstration was held outside the Shura Council in downtown Cairo against military tribunals for civilians in November 2013.

"Some of the protesters were cooped up at an adjacent building and signs of abuse were shown on them," El-Saddda told the court.

Former MP Gamila Ismail said she had tried to turn herself in to prosecutors as one of the organisers of the unauthoised demonstration.

She also said she received a number of distress calls from protesters against police use of force.

Daughter of renowned television host Mahmoud Saad, who was among the protesters, told the court she was brutally beaten by the same police officer who accused the protesters of assaulting him.

Mai Saad showed the court pictures from her personal mobile phones to support her testimony.

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, authorities have launched a harsh crackdown on dissent that has included Morsi supporters as well as secular-leaning activists.

Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed and thousands jailed while dozens of secular activists have been imprisoned.

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