Witness accuses plaintiff of assault in Shura Council trial
Egyptian policemen use a water canon to disperse protesters during a demonstration in front of the Shura council - AFP/Khaled Desoki

CAIRO: A defense witness in the case of the 2013 Shura Council protest accused Officer Emad Tahoun in a Thursday testimonial of beating her “on different parts of her body” during the demonstration, Youm7 reported. Activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah is jailed pending the trial on grounds of assaulting Tahoun.

The witness, Mai Saad, said that a passerby, whom she identified as Ahmed Abdel Rahman, verbally intervened when he saw the alleged assault. Abdel Rahman is now one of the 25 defendants in the trial, Saad added.

The No to Military Trials for Civilians group had called for the protest Nov. 26, 2013 outside the Shura Council, where a 50-member committee convened to draft the 2014 constitution, to voice their objection to constitutionally allow military trials for civilians.

Both the 2014 and 2012 charters allowed such trials and shielded the military budget from scrutiny, despite fierce opposition to the trials that witnessed an increase in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution in 2011.

Tahoun also accuses Abd El-Fattah of stealing his walkie-talkie, although he says he was not at the protest and thus was arrested from his home, unlike the other co-defendants who were arrested at the scene. Some of those arrested claim they were just walking by, rather than protesting.

On the other hand, the award-winning founder of No to Military Trials for Civilians Mona Seif, the sister of Abd El-Fattah, was arrested at the demonstration and released the same day.

More testimonies

Member of the constitutional committee Huda al-Sadda, a professor at Cairo University’s Faculty of Arts, also testified Thursday that she met the protesters who had been detained inside the Shura Council right after the dispersal of the demonstration, and that they were “terrified” and exhibited “traces of beatings.”

Mohamed Aboul Ghar, head of the Egyptian Democratic Social Party and member of the constitutional committee, testified that while he did not witness the protest, three officers told him following the dispersal that the police treated the protesters cruelly and arrested them.

He also noted that other groups of activists, Copts, and disabled people had protested in the same place to ensure their rights in the constitution and were not dispersed. Other witnesses at the session noted that they did not see Abd El-Fattah in the vicinity of the Shura Council.

The proceedings come as part of a retrial, as the 25 defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia in June. They had been released on bail in groups, but some of them were waiting outside the court to be allowed to attend their first trial, including Abd El-Fattah, activists Ahmed Noubi and Wael Metwally.

More defense witnesses, including Seif and her mother, will testify during a session scheduled for Sunday.

The 2013 incident represented a decisive stage after the authorities had exclusively pursued Islamist protesters since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. It was also the first manifestation of the controversial protest law, which had been adopted only two days prior to the protest, and criminalizes any political demonstration without prior security forces approval.

The National Council for Human Rights emphasized “the necessity” to amend the protest law, as well to set a date for the period of detention pending investigations in a Wednesday statement.

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