Trial of activists Maher and Douma adjourned to 10 February

Trial of activists Maher and Douma adjourned to 10 February

Political activist and coordinator of the April 6 Movement, Ahmed Maher shows a T-shirt reading "Dropping the law on demonstrations" during his trial over an unlicensed and violent demonstration on December 8, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt ( AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD KHALED)

Political activist and coordinator of the April 6 Movement, Ahmed Maher shows a T-shirt reading “Dropping the law on demonstrations” during his trial over an unlicensed and violent demonstration on December 8, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt
( AFP PHOTO/MAHMOUD KHALED)

Abdeen Misdemeanour Court decided on Monday to adjourn the trial of 6 April Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher, member of the movement’s political bureau Mohamed Adel, and prominent activist Ahmed Douma to 10 February.

Douma’s lawyer Amr Imam said the judges agreed to all the requests submitted by the defendants’ lawyers regarding their requests for more witnesses to testify and the trial’s adjournment. The lawyers also submitted requests to allow Douma to attend his exams and the lawyers to visit the defendants in prison. “However, one request was refused, which was the release of the defendants,” Imam said.

“The witnesses who attended Monday’s hearing testified in favour of the defendants, despite their being expected to testify against them,” Imam said.

Douma’s brother, Mohamed, said that the families of the defendants, and an observatory delegate from the European Union (EU), were banned from entry to the court session.

The trio was found guilty last month of protesting without the Ministry of Interior’s approval under the controversial newly-issued Protest Law, rioting, “thuggery”, inciting violence against Abdeen Courthouse security personnel and the possession of melee weapons. They were each sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour and fined EGP 50,000.

The ruling was met with criticism by a number of foreign and domestic groups. The United States Department of State said that the verdicts “should be reviewed” and added that the court decision “does not contribute to an open electoral environment or a transitional process that protects the universal rights of all Egyptian citizens”.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton was also critical of the verdict, saying the Protest Law “is widely seen as excessively limiting freedom of expression and assembly”.

Fourteen Egyptian civil society groups also condemned the original sentencing, accusing security forces of using the new Protest Law to selectively crack down on political activists.

The defendants then filed an appeal against the original verdict. The first hearing was set to be held on 8 January but was then delayed to the next day. The court subsequently decided to schedule the second hearing on Monday.

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