Saturday, September 8, 2018

Rabaa Sit-in dispersal trial : Death sentences , life sentences and Shawkan is a free at last…somehow "Updated"

A Cairo Criminal court put an end on Saturday for the infamous trial known in the media as “Rabaa Sit-in dispersal trial” after nearly 3 years in court and 2 years in pre-trial detention since August 2013
The Criminal Court sentenced 75 defendants to death while 47 defendants to a life sentence in prison “25 years without the possibility of a parole” and 374 defendants to 15 years in prison.
Mahmoud Abu Zeid aka Shawkan in court

The court also sentenced 22 minor defendants and one defendant “adult” to 10 years in prison and 215 defendants including photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid aka Shawkan were sentenced to 5 years while the lawsuit is expired for 5 defendants as they passed away.

The defendants except 22 minors are to be isolated from other prisoners in prison, to be expelled of their government jobs if they have any, to be banned from managing their money and assets and to be put under police surveillance for 5 years when they are released.
The prosecution had referred the 739 defendants to Criminal court in August 2015 for a number of charges above them attempting to change the main system of the state and organizing an assembly of more than 5 people at Rabaa Adawaya square in order to endanger the peace and general security as well to terrorize and scare the public and to endanger their lives.

The defendants were also accused of committing assault crimes against citizens who came near their assembly or their political opponents for penetrating their assembly as well resisting official authorities from policemen who were dispersing their sit-in.

They were accused of murder, destroying and occupying public properties and building by force as well as obstructing and blocking traffic.

Now there is good news in that case that Shawkan and the 214 other defendants are going to be released because they have spent 5 years in total in detention pending investigation at last.

Award-winning Shawkan was arrested along two foreign reporters during Rabaa Sit-in dispersal in August 2013. The foreign reporters left detention on the same day according to news reports.

But there is also bad news, Shawkan and the 214 defendants will spend the next 5 years since their release under police surveillance, which means half of their day “12 hours” will be spent at a police station.

There is also an important fact: They have not been acquitted of the charges above.
Shawkan will be a free technically but he has not been acquitted from those awful charges.

Back to the rest of the defendants, this is a first-degree-sentences which they can be appealed within 60 days.
The lawyers of MB leading figures said that they would appeal the verdicts which are expected.

The leading figures of the Muslim Brotherhood above them the current Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood Mohamed Badie who already was sentenced to death in several other cases to the level that I have lost counting honestly. I think most of his death sentences were reduced to life sentences. The leading MB figure Mohamed El-Beltagy who lost a daughter in the dispersal of the sit-in was also sentenced to death along with famous MB figure Essam El-Erian.

There are also unknown names among the defendants who were sentenced to death like brothers Mohamed and Mostafa El-Faramawy, whom according to friends did not participate in Rabaa Sit-in because they had allegedly been arrested earlier !!

Former minister of supply and MB member Bassem Ouda {who is popular now among many due to his policies in the ministry } and leading Al-Wasat Party member and lawyer Essam Sultan got life sentences.

Egyptian American Mostafa Kassem was sentenced as well 15 years in jail. The paralegal's name was among the American citizens US vice president Mike Pence discussed their detention with President El-Sisi in their meeting last January.

The adult defendant that was sentenced to ten years in prison is Osama Mohamed Morsi, the son of ousted president Morsi.
Osama Morsi was arrested in December 2016.
The lawyer had been sentenced to 3 years in prison in October 2017 by Zagzig Misdemeanor Court for possessing a penknife without license originally but the sentence was reduced to 3 months in January 2018.

Some of the defendants like Wagdy Ghonim and Tarek El-Zomor have been sentenced in absentia.
Those who stand a trial in absentia in Egypt receive the maximum penalty according to the Panel Code for not showing up in the court usual.

Radical and controversial Wagdy Ghonim got a couple of death sentences waiting for him in Egypt.
I think he is currently staying in Turkey while Tarek El-Zomor is staying in Qatar.
El-Zomor said after the court sentence on his official Twitter account that “Their sentences will not terrorize us and we will continue to defend our people”.

Ghonim who is known for his racist hateful comments against Non-Muslims said on his official FB page that “however you try to kill witnesses or hide truth and to execute those who were absent and present [at Rabaa], the blood of the Egyptians on Rabaa dispersal day continues to be curse hunting down all those who committed it or support it or justify it.”

Journalist Abdullah El-Shamy has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia as well and he commented on Twitter in a threat about the trial.
Michelle Bachelet, the newly picked UN high commissioner for human rights issued a statement on Sunday slamming the court verdicts especially the death sentences describing them as “a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice”.

“I hope that the Egyptian Court of Appeal will review this verdict and ensure that international standards of justice are respected by setting it aside,” The former president of Chile said in her statement.
Bachelet is considered also the first international official to make a comparison between the trial and its verdict on one side and the new law approved by the parliament in July concerning the immunity of the officers.
Justice must apply to all – no one should be immune,” the High Commissioner said.

On the same day, Egypt’s foreign ministry released a statement slamming Bachelet telling her that she started her job badly and that she should not believe the MB lies.

  Ironically, the MFA mentioned another trial instead of "Rabaa dispersal trial", it mentioned "Rabaa control room"

Interestingly the MFA took the time to refute what it considered Bachelet’s misunderstanding to the law to honor senior military officers saying that it did not give them immunity from direct investigations or standing in front of their courts insisting that the controversial law did not break the constitution.

The EU also issued a statement slamming the 75 death sentences as it has a stance against capital punishment.
It also slammed the trial itself.
Moreover, the circumstances of this mass trial cast serious doubts on the respect of due process and in particular the defendants' rights to a fair trial.” The statement read.

Expectedly, the Egyptian MFA slammed this statement telling the EU not to interfere in other countries’ affairs as usual.

Currently, it is really good news somehow for Shawkan and his family as well as the families of the 214 defendants despite it is not full freedom yet.

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