A farmer pauses during work on his farm in Geziret Al-Warraq, an impoverished island that can only be reached by ferry, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, March 10, 2015 (Photo: AP)
A Cairo criminal court has sentenced in absentia 30 defendants to 15 years in prison over clashes between police and residents of Cairo’s Warraq Island in 2017.
The clashes took place when authorities attempted to demolish homes that it said were illegally built on state property.
The court also handed a life sentence to one defendant in absentia, and sentenced four present defendants to five years in prison.
The defendants were charged by the prosecution with illegal assembly and the injuring of 33 policemen during the clashes, which were the result of a government campaign to remove illegal buildings and encroachments on state property on the banks of the Nile.
The clashes on the 1,400-feddan island also resulted in the death of a local resident and the injury of dozens of others.
The prosecution also charged the defendants with encroaching on public and private property, shows of force, preventing public officials from carrying out their duties, thuggery and blocking roads.
The sentence is not final and can still be appealed.
The nationwide campaign against Nile-side encroachments was launched in 2014, and thousands of violations have been removed along the river’s banks.