CAIRO: The Juvenile Court of Misdemeanors in Alexandria Wednesday sentenced 78 minors to prison sentences ranging from two to five years for illegally participating in pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests in the period that followed the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
The verdict is expected to be reduced, as defense lawyer Ahmed el-Hamrawy will follow up on it, Al-Arabiya reported Wednesday. The defendants were charged with violence and obstructing traffic.
The minors’ case in Alexandria has become controversial, namely after the famous case in 2013 involving 21 young women in which the court sentenced 17 of them to 11 years in prison and the remaining seven to spend time in a juvenile detention center. The verdict was later reduced to a suspended year in prison and the female protesters were released in December 2013.
Secretary-General Hani Helal of the Egyptian Coalition of Children’s Rights noted in March 2014 that the situation of minors in court and prisons had become critical due to increased political exploitation and detention and torture allegations, as at least 400 detained minors were known as of October 2013 to the day Helal spoke to The Cairo Post.
Another infamous incident involved reports of the alleged torture of 52 children in Alexandria’s Koum El-Dekka prison, and it was referred to Juan E. Méndez, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, by Swiss NGO Al-Karama on Aug. 27.
According to an Al-Karama statement, the children are between ages 15 to 18 and were subjected to torture and sexual abuse after they were arrested during a peaceful protest against the current regime eight months ago. Authorities have accused the minors of conducting illegal demonstrations, attacking military and police forces and being members of a banned group, according to the report.
The children started a hunger strike last Sunday to object to their alleged maltreatment in prison, according to rights’ lawyer Mohamed al-Maghraby as quoted by the Cairo Portal news website on Nov. 24.
Additional reporting by Nourhan Magdi and Aya Samir.