The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned Sunday the trial session for the police officer accused of manslaughter in the case of activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh’s death to 11 June.
The case is scheduled to hear both the prosecution and the defence in the case. Al-Sabbagh was killed during a peaceful march organised by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) on 24 January in downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square.
Following the session, Al-Sabbagh’s lawyers tried to calm the family, as her aunt was in a weak emotional state, claiming she feared her niece’s “blood would go wasted”.
Lawyers reassured her, saying they had a strong case and that a technical report was added to the case in their favour. They added that they were all still suffering Al-Sabbagh’s death, and that they would not leave it unpunished.
The 24-year-old suspect belongs to the Ministry of Interior’s Central Security Forces (CSF) in charge of dealing with street protests. The charge he is facing was described by the court as “beating that led to death”, and is subject to a prison sentence which ranges from three to seven years.
Shortly before the case started, a lawyer from the claimant’s side, Ali Soliman, told Daily News Egypt they had requested that the charge of manslaughter be changed to murder. This was especially after the Qasr El-Nil Misdemeanour Court acquitted SPAP members from charges under the Protest Law.
He added that they did not expect the court to approve their demand, and that they would work on the case as it is with two additional defendants added to the case.
“The current’s suspect supervisor and his aide from CSF are accused of covering up the crime, but we want to hold them equally responsible to the main suspect,” Soliman explained.
The court brought in criminologists and a doctor from the Forensic Medicine Authority, whom the defence tried to question about the technical report’s accuracy detailing the use of the suspect’s weapon.
Hassan El-Daly, a representative for the Criminal Evidence authorities, stated that bullet traces on the walls of the Air France building in Talaat Harb Street show the trajectory of the shooting came from Tahrir Square’s side towards Talaat Harb.
However, he was unable to confirm whether they were the results of this particular incident or from previous events, as the area has witnessed numerous protests over the past four years.
A video presented to the court as incriminating evidence showed the officer switching weapons and using birdshot guns on the so-called protesters. Afterwards, his aide was seen switching back the guns to the commonly used tear gas rifles in the dispersal of demonstrations.
“In a previous session, the judge stopped at the video. He made comments that implied he was not convinced that the events were actually a protest that needed interference, mainly due to the very limited number of participants in it,” Soliman said.
Al-Sabbagh died as a result of laceration to the lungs caused by a birdshot, according to the official Forensic Medicine report. “She was the pillar of her little family and a brave example for her young six-year-old son,” Soliman said about her.
The Ministry of Interior denied public claims, refusing to take responsibility for the shooting.