Jailed activist Douma calls on Sabahi to withdraw from presidential race

El-Sayed Gamal El-deen, Wednesday 9 Apr 2014

Judge adjourns trial of 269 protesters –- including Ahmed Douma – over the 'cabinet clashes' of December 2011

Political activist Ahmed Douma
Political activist Ahmed Douma looks on behind bars in Cairo, December 22, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

The trial of 269 protesters, arrested during clashes outside the cabinet building in December 2011, has been adjourned until 22 April to allow for the collection of new testimonies and evidence.

They are accused of attacking the cabinet building and security personnel, and torching the Scientific Institute in downtown Cairo.

The violence erupted after soldiers violently dispersed a peaceful sit-in outside the cabinet building, sparking five days of clashes that killed 17 people and injured over one thousand.

Police assaults, no to protest law

During Wednesday's session, Douma said he and his co-defendants were being subjected to beatings and humiliation by the security forces.

He added that he would not be answering questions posed by the court because he doubted the transparency of the trial which is "taking place at the police institute."

Trials have been taking place at new courts in venues affiliated to the police in order to quicken procedures.

Douma, a member of the Egyptian Popular Current, has called on its leader, Hamdeen Sabahi, to withdraw from the presidential election slated for late May.

"Douma from inside the cage: tell Hamdeen Sabahi that I am asking him to withdraw from the presidential election until the protest law is revoked and all detainees are freed," his lawyer Amr Imam revealed via Twitter.

According to Imam, Douma also criticised political forces for demanding a presidential pardon for detainees, stressing that instead they should mobilise on the streets to demand the protest law's annulment.

In a separate trial last December, Douma was convicted, alongside prominent activists Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, for organising unauthorised protests and assaulting police officers. An appeal against their three-year jail sentences was turned down by an appeal court on Monday.

Douma, who went on a hunger strike in December to protest "inhumane" jail conditions, is in poor health, and there is an ongoing campaign for him to receive appropriate medical care for a serious digestion condition.

Activists have criticised what they describe as the authorities’ negligence towards Douma's deteriorating condition.

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