In this Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 photo, 32-year-old mother Shaimaa el-Sabbagh holds a poster during a protest in downtown Cairo (Photo: AP)
Egypt's Court of Cassation overturned on Sunday a 15-year jail sentence issued to a police officer for the fatal shooting of protester Shaimaa El-Sabbagh during a peaceful march last year in downtown Cairo ahead of the fourth anniversary of the January 25 uprising.
The court ordered a new trial of the Central Security Forces (CSF) officer Yaseen Mohamed Hatem in front of a different district court.
The policeman's lawyer, Fareed El-Deeb, said that the march where El-Sabbagh was killed took place under “exceptional circumstances” due to the timing of the anniversary, adding that if his client had an intention to commit murder, dozens of casualties would have fallen.
El-Deeb added to his defense that the march, organised by Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), was not given a permit by the interior ministry, claiming that the demonstrators created a state of confusion for the forces.
The lawyer pushed to prove the absence of criminal intent and murder for his defendant by adding that the killing of 32-year-old El-Sabbagh resulted from the “indiscretion” and “inexperience” of a young 25-year-old police officer.
In June 2015, a Cairo court sentenced the CSF police officer to 15 years in jail after it convicted him for "beating that led to the death" of El-Sabbagh -- a charge similar to manslaughter, as well as "deliberately wounding" other protesters.
El-Sabbagh was killed after being hit with birdshot fired by the CSF police officer.
Egypt's CSF often disperse protests using birdshot and teargas.
The former court verdict against the CSF officer was deemed the first and toughest such sentence against a policeman for killing protesters since the 2011 uprising.