Man sentenced for contempt of court in first hearing on journalist’s murder

CAIRO: A defendant was sentenced to one year in prison Tuesday for contempt of court after he laughed at the judge in the murder case of journalist Mayada Ashraf, Youm7 reported.

The Cairo Criminal Court judge was calling out the names of the defendants to confirm their presence when Ahmed Ismail answered in a way the judge found insulting.

There are 47 other defendants in the case, which was postponed to Oct. 24. Assassinated Attorney-General Hisham Barakat had referred the 48 people, all affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, to court for their alleged implication in the killing of Ashraf, citizen Mary George, and child Sherif Abdel Raouf March 28 last year in Ain Shams Cairo district.

The prosecution, which called for the maximum penalty for the defendants, says that the Brotherhood formed armed task-based committees, some of them aiming to target media practitioners to prevent them from “revealing the Brotherhood crimes.” Other committees are responsible for targeting Christians to stir sectarian strife, according to the prosecution.

After the Brotherhood organized the March 2014 Ain Shams protest, their so-called committees shot at citizens who opposed their protest, as well as journalists and police forces; they allegedly shot Ashraf dead as she was filming their “criminal acts,” according to prosecution investigations.

However, some witnesses, including a journalist who was with Ashraf covering the protest, said the shots had come from the side of security forces.

Ashraf’s death also prompted criticism of the Journalists’ Syndicate and media institutions for not protecting and training field journalists.

Mary George was driving her car near the protest when a mob surrounded her vehicle and torched it, and fatally assaulted George, according to the Forensic Medicine.

Some human rights activists believe she was killed for being Christian.

The defendants are facing an array of charges; murder and attempted murder, possession of weapons and explosives, belonging to a “terrorist group,” sabotaging properties, and resisting the authorities.

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