CAIRO: A police officer was referred to the criminal court Tuesday for “beating that led to the death” of activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh on Jan. 25 near Tahrir Square in Cairo, according to Egyptian State TV.
The prosecution said Sabbagh, 32, was shot by a Central Security Forces officer. She was heading to Tahrir Square to place wreaths in honor of the January 25 Revolution victims. The name of the policeman, who is also accused of “intentionally inflicting” injuries on other victims around Sabbagh, has not been disclosed.
According to the prosecution, the weapon used was a “light kind” of birdshot. Sabbagh’s cause of death was “birdshot in the back, leading to lacerations in the two lungs, heart and a massive hemorrhage in the chest,” according to a forensic medicine report. In videos of the incident, officers were only a few meters away from the activist.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi offered his condolences to Sabbagh’s family, referring to her as his “daughter” on multiple occasions. During a February speech, he asked former Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim to update him on the murderer’s investigations, and the latter said the perpetrator would be punished criminally and administratively.
Ibrahim, however, was replaced in a March 5 reshuffle.
It is not the first time to refer an officer to the criminal court on charges of killing protesters. Officer Amr Farouk was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the manslaughter of 37 Muslim Brotherhood detainees. They suffocated to death in August 2014 after a tear gas canister was fired inside a police vehicle in which they were detained.
Farouk’s sentence was revoked in June 2014 by an appeal court. The prosecution is reinvestigating the case. The victims had not been charged of anything at the time they were killed.
Almost all policemen who were tried for killing hundreds of protesters during the 2011 upheaval were acquitted on grounds of lack of evidence of self defense.
Only two officers were given sentences, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. One of whom is Captain Tamer Refat, who was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2012 for shooting a woman in her balcony. A video filmed by her children was presented as damning evidence.