Cairo court orders release of 23 demonstrators detained under new protest law

El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen , Wednesday 4 Dec 2013

Court rejects prosecutors' appeal against release of activists; activists Ahmed Maher and Alaa Abdel-Fattah remain in custody

Egyptian police fire water cannons to disperse a protest by anti-government activists in Cairo (Photo: AP)

A Cairo criminal court upheld on Wednesday an earlier court decision to release 23 activists detained a week ago for allegedly breaking a new protest law.

They were released pending investigations, and will each pay LE 5,000 in bail.

A previous court order for their release was halted earlier on Monday after prosecutors filed an appeal.

Twenty-four male protesters have been held in police custody since 26 November. They were arrested for breaking a newly issued protest law as they failed to obtain a permit for a demonstration against a constitutional article which would allow civilians to be tried in military courts.

Twenty-six female activists were also arrested during the dispersal. They were later released and dumped by security forces on a desert highway.

The female activists have filed legal complaints against police officers for assaulting and sexual harassing them.

Under the protest law's stipulations, issued last week by interim President Adly Mansour, demonstrators must submit plans for their protests to the authorities at least three days prior. Failure to do so can result in fines or jail terms.

The remaining male detainee, Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, did not appeal his detention and thus was not released.

Also in detention pending investigation are prominent activists Ahmed Maher and Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who have been charged with rioting, assaulting police officers, blocking roads and violating the new protest law.

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