Over 100 local civic organisations, politicians, lawyers and human rights advocates signed a joint statement Saturday condemning the authorities’ practices against the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP).
This comes as the fall-out from the case of SPAP activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh’s death continues.
The case has two aspects: the shooting of protesters, in which 32-year-old Al-Sabbagh was killed, and the breaching of the Protest Law in which 17 people are accused, mostly party members.
The case was opened as soon as the incidents took place on 24 January, ahead of the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. Since then, a number of ‘outrageous’ practices by the authorities have taken place, according to defence lawyers and rights’ defenders.
Defence lawyer Ali Soliman told Daily News Egypt Sunday that they have to wait until the first trial session on 4 April to obtain the investigations’ report. As for the 17 defendants in the case, only five party members were arrested during the protest, while the 12 others were arrested after being called for or voluntarily providing their testimonies.
Among them is Elhamy El-Mirghany, a senior SPAP member who testified but never faced accusations, yet is officially included in the suspects’ list. The list also includes three eyewitnesses who do not belong to the party.
One of the three is Azza Soliman, a lawyer and a senior member of the well-known local Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA). She voluntarily went to testify on the incidents she said she witnessed from inside a restaurant off Talaat Harb Street.
“After the prosecution’s decision to change my status, from a witness to a defendant, I would like to say that I do not regret my testimony. No matter what the police, prosecution or judiciary do to scare us – and sometimes they are successful – I am still full of hope,” Soliman posted to her Facebook account on 23 March.
As for implications regarding the accused policeman, Soliman said that if the suspect was a regular civilian, he would have been charged with intended attempted murder, rather than the current cited charge of manslaughter.
Soliman had previously explained that if the policeman was charged with “attempted murder”, he would have been deemed innocent as he did not leave his house with the intention of killing her. However, she added that “we are trying to gain the rights of a martyr”, and added that El-Imam’s charges might entail a 3-7 year prison sentence.
“Policemen are supposed to be trained on protesters’ dispersal. That training does not tell them to shoot on people from such a close distance – eight metres as established by the FMA,” Soliman said.