CAIRO: Sanaa Seif and Yara Sallam, along with 22 co-defendants, were sentenced Sunday to three years in prison and a 10,000 EGP ($1,400) fine after being in pre-trial detention more than 100 days over demonstrating against the 2013 Protest Law.
Seif, sister of prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, along with the other detainees were arrested June 21 for illegally protesting; under the 2013 law, all political gatherings must first have official approval from security forces.
Sunday’s heading was attended by a delegation from the European Union. A member of the delegation told Youm7 they were there to watch the procedures of the session and not to express solidarity with anyone.
Amnesty International urged Egyptian authorities to release the activists, and called the law “draconian.” The trial, the organization said, was “based on highly questionable evidence,” and said that Yara Sallam, was not present in the protest where the other co-defendants were arrested.
The rapid referral of the 24 defendants to trial was also questioned by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in a June statement.
In a Friday statement, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights called for a fair trial for the activists “as the defendants’ family members were denied access to the courtroom.”
Lengthy pre-trial detention for is a controversial topic; many consider the detentions as a form of punishment, before cases are ever heard before a judge.
The African Commission also expressed its “deep concern” about the spate of arrests of human rights activists in Egypt, “which is resulting in lengthy jail sentences.”
Many political activists have been held under prolonged remand while others are serving prison sentences over charges of illegal demonstrations under the protest law. As a result, a mass hunger strike campaign was launched last month by activists to pressure for the release of their detained colleagues and to demand the annulment of the law.