Democracy advocates in Egypt go on trial
Three prominent democracy campaigners charged with participating in illegal protests and assaulting police
Women who were found guilty of obstructing traffic during a pro-Islamist protest in October smile during their appeal hearing at a court in the Egyptian city of Alexandria last Friday. Photograph: Reuters
The trial began yesterday of three prominent secular Egyptian democracy campaigners charged with participating in illegal protests and assaulting police just 24 hours after 176 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were freed on appeal after being sentenced for taking part in deadly demonstrations in October.
The three men have been accused of participating in an illegal demonstration at the end of November.
Among the freed prisoners were 14 women who had been given a punitive 11-year sentence for rallying in Alexandria in support of Mr Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood. Seven juvenile girls had been sentenced to custody until they reach 18.
Confined in a cage in court, the women and girls, who had been detained for more than a month, were dressed in white prison clothes and carried red roses. On their palms they had written “Freedom”.
The women’s sentence was reduced to one-year suspended while the girls were given three months’ probation.
The original sentences led to an outcry among Egyptian and international human rights movements. The other 155 released detainees had participated in October 6th protests.
Following months of disruption, the government adopted a law on November 24th that bans protests not approved by the police.