Morsi pardons revolution's political prisoners

Ahram Online, Randa Ali, Tuesday 9 Oct 2012

Egypt's state leader marks 100 days in office by issuing decree releasing those arrested during protests after 18 months of pressure from revolutionaries and rights group; April 8 officers included

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi (Photo: Reuters)

On the 100th day of his presidency, Egypt's state leader Mohamed Morsi issued a blanket pardon, Monday evening, for all citizens arrested during protests held since the start of the January 25 Revolution until 30 June this year, when he was inaugurated. The pardon, according to the presidential decree, includes those who are currently facing trial as well as those already serving jail sentences.

"The blanket pardon applies to whoever been sentenced during the January 25 Revolution while trying to support the revolution," the presidential decree read, adding that the amnesty excludes those convicted of murder.

The statement further added that a list of those receiving pardons will be published by the public prosecutor and military attorney general in the official government gazette within a month, urging whoever is missing from the list to file a petition with the government.

Morsi's legal consultant Mohamed Gadallah to Al-Jazeera Mubasha Misr, Monday evening, that the pardon will include military officers who were arrested for participating in pro-revolution protests.

On 29 September an order was issued by Defence Minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to reduce the sentences of 21 officers, jailed by the former Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for joining a demonstration on 8 April 2011 against the then-ruling military council, to suspended one-year prison terms.

The pardon was largely positively received. Prominent Egyptian journalist Hamdi Kandil commented on Twitter that: "revolutionaries have not waited for any decision as much as they have waited for today's decision by Morsi to pardon all political prisoners."

Meanwhile, activist and leading member of No to Military Trials for Civilians campaign Mona Seif welcomed the decision on her Twitter account but said it does not go far enough.

"The text states that the pardon only applies to those who were arrested in pro-revolution events, which means that citizens who have been unjustly tried by military courts over a fight or children arrested for non-political reasons are not included in that pardon," Seif said.

Seif told Ahram Online that given that the pardon is restricted to the time period from 25 January 2011 to 30 June 2012, those arrested during the recent clashes at the US embassy will also not be released.

The decree was issued after 18 months of continued campaigns by different rights groups pressuring the Egyptian government to release political prisoners.

President Mohamed Morsi had also formed a "Civil Rights Protection" committee after assuming office that was tasked with investigating cases of civilians detained by military authorities.

Revolutionary groups and opposition political parties have planned national demonstrations on Friday which would call on president Morsi to release all those arrested by the government for taking part in the revolution or protests afterwards.

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