Syrian judge releases activist Yara Shammas on bail: Lawyer

AFP , Monday 30 Apr 2012

A Syrian court ordered the release of the anti-regime activist, Yara Shammas, who faces the death penalty for "belonging to a secret organisation" on bail

Syrian anti-regime activist Yara Shammas, who faces the death penalty for "belonging to a secret organisation," was bailed on Monday pending trial, said the director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research.

The judiciary, either "will issue a decision regarding the charges against her and she will be tried before the Criminal Court, or it will issue a declaration of her innocence and drop the charges," said Anwar Bunni, a human rights lawyer.

Shammas was arrested in Damascus on March 7 and jailed in Homs, central Syria.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted that, among the nine charges brought against her, is one under Article 298 of the criminal code that carries a possible death penalty.

The article mandates a life sentence for anyone committing an act that aims to cause a civil war or communal strife by arming citizens or inciting them to take up arms against each other, or to incite a massacre or looting.

"If this act achieves its aim, the guilty party will be sentenced to death," the article says.

It is unclear what criminal acts Shammas, 21, is alleged to have committed.

Shammas, an IT specialist, is also the daughter of human rights lawyer Michel Shammas, who is representing her.

Rights groups say that her arrest is meant to put pressure on her father.

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