Activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mona Seif receive suspended jail sentence

Ahram Online, El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Sunday 5 Jan 2014

High-profile activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, his sister Mona Seif and 10 others receive a suspended 1-year jail term for accusations of torching the campaign HQ of 2012 presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq

Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Mona seif
Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Mona seif

The Giza Criminal Court on Sunday handed leftist activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, his sister Mona Seif and ten more defendants a suspended one-year jail sentence on accusations of torching the campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq.

As the jail term is to remain suspended for three years, should any of the defendants be found guilty of additional charges within this time, this one-year term would be added onto any subsequent sentences.

The duo were charged, along with others, with assaulting people, damaging and stealing properties, torching the presidential campaign headquarters of former Mubarak-era premier Shafiq, whose presidential candidacy triggered a wave of protests by many revolutionaries.

The defendants were exonerated from the torching charges. Stealing accusations against them were also dropped.

Mona Seif came Sunday to the courtroom and was placed behind bars; Abdel-Fattah, however, who was kept in prison for security reasons, did not attend the court session.

Seif told Al-Shorouk newspaper earlier on Sunday there was no evidence to show that she and her brother were incriminated in this incident.  

The defense team described on Sunday the sentence as "politicised." Lawyer Ramy Ghanem, member of the defence team, stressed that they will appeal the verdict.

On 30 May 2012, leftist activist Abdel-Fattah, along with his sister, were summoned by the prosecution to answer questions regarding their alleged involvement in the torching of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq's campaign headquarters.

Despite Shafiq's eventual withdrawal of his complaint, former General Prosecutor Talaat Abdallah ordered the re-investigation of the case in which Abdel-Fattah and others allegedly committed crimes of aggression against the public and destroyed property, as well as deliberately set fire to the campaign headquarters of the former presidential candidate on 28 May 2012.

The arson attack took place after the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission announced that Mubarak-era premier Ahmed Shafiq and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi had qualified for the presidential election runoff on 16-17 June.

Four suspects detained at the scene claimed they had seen Abdel-Fattah in the area when the arson attack took place.

Meanwhile, Abdel-Fattah was arrested on 28 November 2013 on different charges after prosecutors accused him and others of breaking the controversial new protest law, which stipulates that no protests be held without prior security permit. He has been in detention since.

Accused of involvement in a protest against military trials for civilians, which took place in central Cairo, Abdel-Fattah was questioned by the Qasr Al-Nil prosecution office and charged with holding an unauthorised demonstration. According to Al-Ahram, Abdel-Fattah told prosecutors he had not called for the protest.

The activist also stated publicly he had not been involved in planning the protest, but that he opposes the new legislation and the arrest of the demonstrators who were present.

His sister Mona Seif, who is a leading member of the No to Military Trials campaign, was arrested during the 26 November protest at the Shura Council but was released on the same day. However, she continues to face charges of calling for and participating in an unauthorised protest. 

Abdel-Fattah was previously detained by the military prosecution for allegedly participating in the Maspero clashes in October 2011, when mostly Christian protesters clashed with the military leaving scores dead. 

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