South Cairo Criminal Court is holding the first trial session for 48 defendants accused of killing journalist Mayada Ashraf and two others during violent protests back in March 2014. The suspects are accused of belonging to the “terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisation”.
Only 35 of the defendants are in police custody under pre-trial detention, state media reported on Tuesday. Prosecution authorities had listed among the accusations that the “armed group aimed at targeting police, journalists and Copts to disturb national unity.”
Assassinated prosecutor general Hisham Barakat had referred the suspects to criminal court last April on grounds of prosecution findings that 25 of the suspects confessed to joining the Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Alliance, for the purposes of forming armed groups “targeting Christians and media people”.
Ashraf, 22, was killed with a gunshot in the head while covering protests that had erupted in the Ain Shams district of Cairo, which then turned violent. In the same events, a Coptic woman named Mary Sameh George, died when she was assaulted and beaten inside her car.
A child was also reportedly killed in the clashes. Ashraf’s case had raised controversy regarding the safety of field reporters, but there have also been claims that the fired shots came from the side of security forces and not the protesters, which the Ministry of Interior strictly denied.