CAIRO: Shaimaa al-Sabbagh was fatally shot Jan. 24 as she marched to a memorial in Tahrir Square to honor victims of the 2011 uprising with a wreath, becoming the first casualty of the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.
Photos captured by Youm7 show the march being dispersed by security forces and members of the police behind Sabbagh holding rifles as well as tear gas cannons.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced in a Monday press conference that if any member of the security forces were responsible for Sabbagh’s death, he would be tried, while adding that it was too early to make specific allegations.
A report issued by the National Community for Human Rights and Law (NCHRL) on Sabbagh’s death stated that police personnel should consider “rules of proportionality and necessity” in using force against civilians “especially when they practice their right to gathering and protest.” The report added that policemen are allowed by law to use force only when they are defending both “themselves and installations,” and “the assault [on the policemen] should be proved by authorities.”
The 2013 protest law criminalizes any political gathering held without prior authorization from security forces, and allows the police to disperse them with force. Since the law entered into force, there have been numerous clashes between security forces and protesters, who believe demonstrating is a right guaranteed in the constitution.
NCHRL also said that its lawyers and eyewitnesses have filed complaints regarding the release of some results of preliminary investigation into the case by the prosecution, labeling it “prejudicial” to the ongoing investigation.
In its release, the prosecution said that police forces confronted some Popular Alliance Party (PAP) members marching from Talaat Harb Square to Tahrir Square “with tear gas bombs and arrested six of them for assaulting forces by firing flares and fireworks.”
The six arrested PAP members were reportedly released Monday.
Sabbagh’s cause of death was “birdshot in the back, leading to lacerations in the two lungs, heart and a massive haemorrhage in the chest,” according to a forensic medicine report.
Eyewitnesses to the incident told NCHRL that police forces fired “tear gas canisters and birdshot” at the march from a close range that does not exceed 10 meters.
On the other hand, the Interior Ministry spokesperson Hani Abdel Latif told The Cairo Post that the forces which dispersed the Saturday gathering in Talaat Harb used only tear gas bombs, and denied the use of birdshot or any other weapons.
A number of activists have reacted angrily to Sabbagh’s death and to what they denounced as “excessive force by security forces” in the face of a peaceful gathering. Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi has condemned the killing incident and blamed the Interior Ministry for her death, according to a statement posted on his Facebook page.
Lawyer and ex-presidential candidate Khaled Ali wrote on his Twitter account that the incident was “a live embodiment of the recklessness and savagery of police performance.”
He added in a new post: “You killers are paying lip service to the rule of law and protection of state’s pillars, and you only care for the sovereignty of your speech and pillars of your interest and wealth. The killing of martyr Shaimaa al-Sabbagh is not evidence for your strength, but rather new evidence for the fascism you are entrenching in the country.”
Pictures and videos capturing moments in Sabbagh’s life have been shared by her friends on social media to mourn her loss.
A video of Sabbagh appears singing during the 18 days of 2011 uprising
During his show on Sada el-Balad, TV presenter Ahmed Moussa defended the Interior Ministry, as he showed a picture of civilian in a red circle holding in his hands what it seems to be a weapon and firing near a protest, claiming that the man in the picture is “Sabbagh’s killer” and called on the Interior Ministry to arrest him.
Picture appeared during Moussa’s show on Jan. 24
In fact, the picture screened during Moussa’s show dated back to Jan. 22, 2015; two days before Sabbagh was killed.
The picture, of a protest in Talaat Harb, was published in the state-owned newspaper Akbar al-Youm Thursday.
Picture appeared on Akhbar al-Youm news website on Jan. 22