CAIRO: A sentence upheld Tuesday against Egyptian activist Mahinour al-Masry and six others, sentencing them to two years in jail and a 50,000 EGP ($7,017.65) fine for violating the 2013 Protest Law, has sparked anger from human rights groups.
Mahinour and six others were detained on Dec. 2, 2013 in Alexandria for protesting without permission in front of the Alexandria Courthouse. They were protesting in solidarity with Khaled Said, whose brutal 2010 death while in state custody helped spark the 2011 January 25 Revolution.
“The verdict is targeting the defenders of human rights through using oppressive laws issued amid the absence of an elected legislative council,” read a Wednesday joint statement by 18 human rights organizations. “[It] was designed to punish the opposition and those who shed light on the ongoing violations of human rights.”
The organizations demanded the verdict be dropped, along with the “flawed” protest law.
Mahinour’s lawyer and aunt, Wafaa al-Masry, told The Cairo Post Wednesday that the verdict is a breach of the right of the defense, because the judge rejected requests submitted by the lawyers to change the judge and include additional witnesses.
“The court heard the evidence and upheld the verdict on the same day,” Wafaa said. She added this is not enough time to thoroughly review a case file.
Mahinour attended Tuesday’s hearing, as it was supposed to be just a procedural session, but after the issuance of the verdict, she was taken to a prison in Damanhour.
“Mahinour’s verdict implies the continuation of the politicization of the judiciary, which is taking political stances against opposition,” said Dalia Abdel Hameed, head of the Social Program of Human Rights at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
Abdel Hameed told The Cairo Post that the latest detentions and ongoing trials of activists like Alaa Abdel Fatah, Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and others are all violations of human rights. Abdel Fatah, Douma, Maher and Adel are also facing charges of conducting illegal protests and violating the protest law.
Abdel Hameed said, “The detentions are targeting those who have important stances and activities to monitor human rights violations, like Mahinour al-Masry, who defended Syrian refugees, laborers’ rights, and was always in the front of protests.”