The Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) is pushing to include additional defendants in the retrial of the police forces accused of killing party member Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh last year.
The court ordered a re-trial for the officer on Sunday. The officer, who works at the Central Security Forces (CSF) branch of the Ministry of Interior, previously was sentenced to a 15-year prison term with hard labour.
SPAP leader Medhat El-Zahed said Sunday the party’s political bureau urged lawyers to prosecute the conscript who was loading the rifle for the CSF officer, as well as the commander who ordered the shooting.
The decision was issued by the Court of Cassation, provoking outrage among Al-Sabbagh’s defence lawyers, as well as the SPAP. The case had drawn international attention and condemnation over police brutality and the violent security crackdown on political life in Egypt.
The CFS officer’s defence lawyer, Fareed El-Deeb, has handled prosecution cases against former president Hosni Mubarak, Mubarak’s sons, Mubarak’s aides, and other members of the dissolved National Democratic Party.
El-Deeb claimed the officer acted under exceptional circumstances in the face of an illegal protest and had no intent to kill anyone, “or else dozens of people would have been killed”. El-Deeb’s comments in Sunday’s session were reported by local media.
El-Zahed responded to El-Deeb’s defence claims, stating that Al-Sabbagh was carrying flowers and chanting against terrorism, not the police. Moreover, he said that an army officer testified in court that the weapon used by the CSF officer possessed deadly force, and that the court acquitted the party members from sabotage and violence charges.
“As a lawyer, El-Deeb is seeking a way out and an excuse for his client, in an attempt to evade accountability, despite [his client’s] intent to murder protesters,” El-Zahed said, concluding that the “crime cannot be overlooked for the sake of protecting the police, who are in turn in charge of safeguarding people”. He warned that in the event that the officer is not held accountable, the political climate surrounding accusations of police brutality could become inflammatory.
Al-Sabbagh, a member of SPAP bureau in Alexandria, travelled to Cairo to participate in an organised march dedicated to the “martyrs of the revolution”, ahead of the fourth commemoration of the 25 January Revolution.
The police violently dispersed the gathering on 24 January 2014, in Talaat Harb Street near Tahrir Square. Al-Sabbagh died as a result of close-range birdshot fire that punctured her lungs, according to the Forensic Medicine Authority.
In May 2015, SPAP members were acquitted in charges stemming to a purported violation of the Protest Law.