Cairo Criminal Court will begin Saturday the re-trial of a police officer previously sentenced to 15 years in prison after being charged with the murder of political activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh in January 2015.
Al-Sabbagh, a young member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), died as a result of a birdshot in the neck. She left behind a young child. The party had organised a limited march from Talaat Harb Street to Tahrir Square to put flowers in commemoration of the martyrs of the 25 January Revolution.
However, the police opened fire on the group, leaving several injured and Al-Sabbagh bleeding to death as they arrested colleagues who were trying to rescue her.
At first, the Ministry of Interior had denied the use of excessive force, but, as the case unfolded, Central Security Forces (CSF) officer Yassin Salah was sentenced on 11 June 2015 to a strict 15-year prison term.
Security led an intense campaign to save its image with regards to Al-Sabbagh’s case. Besides arresting 17 members of the party and referring them to trial over protest charges, eyewitnesses who voluntarily testified were turned into suspects in the case.
On 24 January 2015, the day of the incident, journalists obtained footage of the events, including videos that were later used by prosecutors against Salah.
Additionally, another court’s acquittal of SPAP members from protest charges helped Al-Sabbagh’s case.
In February, the defendant’s appeal against his sentence was accepted and he was granted a re-trial.
This has happened in several other cases related to police brutality and torturing to death, where convicted officers have seen their sentences revoked or reduced. Recently, two National Security officers formerly convicted of torturing lawyer Kareem Hamdy to death were granted a re-trial. They initially received five years in prison.