Egyptian court acquits 17 charged for protest where activist was killed

By REUTERS
May 23, 2015 17:13

 
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CAIRO - An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted 17 people of charges related to a street protest earlier this year, judicial sources said, a rare decision since Egypt introduced a strict protest law in late 2013.

The demonstration in January, a march marking the anniversary of the uprising against veteran ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011, caught the world's attention after the shooting death of 32-year-old protester Shaimaa Sabbagh was caught on video.

The public prosecutor has charged a police officer who allegedly fired birdshot to try to disperse the protest.

Defence lawyer Sayed Abu el-Ila, who was photographed with Sabbagh dying in his arms, told Reuters this was the first acquittal since the protest law came into force in 2013.

The statute curtailed demonstrations, a regular feature of the turbulent years since Mubarak's overthrow, and has landed many of the leaders of that initial uprising behind bars.

"I am not pleased by an acquittal at the expense of Shaimaa's blood," Abu el-Ila told reporters. "Shaimaa sacrificed her life to oppose an unjust law, and the law is still in place."

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