Azhar Students Sentenced to 4 Years for Violating the Protest Law

A Cairo misdemeanour court sentenced on Wednesday 16 al-Azhar University students to four years’ hard labour for violating the protest law, among other charges.

The sentence was issued without meeting the defence team’s requests, according to the Cairo-based Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

The defendants faced the charges of forcefully resisting the authorities, illegal assembly and “thuggery”, AFTE said. They were accused of taking part in violent protests which took place in the vicinity of the university in January.

A member of the defence team told Aswat Masriya that Wednesday’s verdict was “abrupt”, as it was issued without hearing the defence’s legal arguments. The defendants include four female students.

Sentenced defendants also include Yassin Sabri, who was arrested on his way to an exam, according to the Freedom for the Brave movement. The movement, founded to call for the release of those detained pending politically-motivated charges, says Sabri did not attend four detention renewal sessions and two trial sessions since the ministry of interior refrained from transferring him to court.

Sabri is a member of the g Egypt Party.

Sabri’s lawyer Abdel Rahman Youssef Ali told Aswat Masriya the court had agreed with the defence team during the previous session to postpone the trial to September to meet the defence’s requests.

The defence was urging for a permit to provide proof from Azhar University that some of the defendants, including Sabri, had exams on the day of their arrest, January 12. Ali said the defence also requested summoning the witnesses to court.

The pro-Mohamed Mursi “Students against the coup” movement has been organising protests against the former Islamist president’s military ouster throughout the past academic year. Protests have often devolved into clashes with security forces.The past academic year is the deadliest, with at least 16 students killed amid protests on campus, according to AFTE’s Student Observatory.

Source : Aswat Masriya