Court Postpones Alaa Abdel Fattah and Others’ Retrial for Violating Protest Law

The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned on Sunday the trial of political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 23 other defendants accused of violating last year’s protest law pending their retrial to November 26.

The defendants are to remain in jail until the next session, when the court is scheduled to hear the witnesses’ testimony.

The court ordered Abdel Fattah’s preventive detention on October 27 alongside 19 other defendants pending their retrial.

Abdel Fattah and three other defendants were released on September 15 on a 5000 Egyptian pound bail each pending their retrial. The judge overseeing the case announced stepping down, citing “disrespect”.

The new judge, nevertheless, ordered the detention of the 20 defendants who showed up to court on October 27, said Mahmoud Belal, one of the lawyers representing Abdel Fattah.

Abdel Fattah and 24 other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison in June for illegal assembly, among other charges.

Abdel Fattah was arrested from his home in November last year for illegal assembly, blocking roads, attacking a police officer and stealing his radio. The other defendants were arrested after the authorities dispersed a demonstration denouncing a constitutional article which permits military trials for civilians outside the Shura Council on November 26, 2013.

Though released in March, Abdel Fattah was sent back to jail on June 11 after the court sentenced him and the other defendants to 15 years in absentia for the same charge.

The 25 defendants were initially charged with protesting without permit, attacking and resisting the authorities among other crimes.

Former interim President Adli Mansour issued the protest law on November 24 last year to regulate peaceful assembly. The law has long been the epicentre of wide criticism by domestic and international human rights organisations which say it violates international standards for peaceful protests.

The legislation obliges demonstrators to inform the authorities of their intention to assemble three days prior to their scheduled events. It also gives the interior ministry the right to cancel, postpone or move protests.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) filed on September 13 a lawsuit at the Supreme Constitutional Court, Egypt’s top court, challenging the constitutionality of articles in the law.

Source : Aswat Masriya