Egyptian court implements presidential pardon for 378 defendants

Ahram Online, Saturday 19 Jan 2013

Cairo criminal court implements President Mohamed Morsi's blanket pardon; acquitting 378 arrested during protests at the Interior Ministry

Mohamed Mahmoud
Protesters run from tear gas thrown by police forces during clashes between police and protesters near the Interior Ministry in Cairo (Photo: reuters)

A Cairo criminal court implements President Morsi's pardon, halting a trial against 378 arrested during protests at the Interior Ministry headquarters.

On 9 October, 2012 the president issued a decree pardoning everyone detained or sentenced from the start of Egypt's revolution on January 25, 2011 up until the day Morsi came into office on 30 June, 2012.

The one exception (in total 379 were facing trial) is Ahmed El-Sayed Dareeri because he was accused of drug possession. Although he was tried, he was proven innocent.

The defendants, including three Americans, one Syrian and over 50 minors, were accused of attacking security forces guarding the Interior Ministry headquarters and of illegally carrying firearms and using bladed weapons. Their trial had begun in July 2012.

The head of the committee tasked with implementing Morsi's pardon, Judge Mohamed Fawzi revealed to Al-Ahram Arabic-language news site in October that the pardon could benefit around 3,000 protesters.

Many, however, argue the pardon does not guarantee the release of civilians facing military trials.

Activists also demand the defendants be officially deemed "innocent" and not simply "pardoned" because a pardon implies they were found guilty but later pardoned.

At least 41 protesters died and thousands were injured during five days of street battles after police forces violently dispersed a sit-in at Tahrir Square on 19 November.

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