Court hears appeal from activist convicted of assault and slander

Amid protests against police brutality and human rights violations, a misdemeanor court opened hearings Sunday for an appeal filed by a young Alexandrian activist convicted of beating and slandering a policeman.

“This [case] is meant to terrorize political activists and to discourage them from engaging in any form of protest,” Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Mostapha’s lawyer, told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “The case is fabricated and the testimonies of the witnesses that the interior ministry has brought are self-contradictory.”

The court is expected to deliver a verdict on October 17.

In June, Hassan Mostafa–currently released on bail–was sentenced to six months in prison and fined LE2000 for the alleged transgressions against a Lieutenant Colonel in Alexandria.

His conviction came on the heels of a complaint that Mostafa had filed earlier against another policeman who the defendant claimed beat him and dragged him on the ground during at a demonstration over the murder of Khaled Saeed in Alexandria. Hassan was on his way to undergo forensic examinations when the Lieutenant Colonel intercepted him and leveled accusations against him, according to Abdel Aziz.

Mostafa is an active member of the Popular Democratic Movement for Change (PDMC) that emerged last winter to voice socio-economic grievances and to oppose President Hosni Mubarak's rule, the Emergency Law, violations of human rights and corruption.

Surrounded by riot police, dozens of Mostafa’s young supporters rallied outside the court shouting slogans and raising banners condemning torture and police extra-legal practice. Nearly 20 protesters were arrested.

“It is not just Hassan [Mostafa]’s problem but it is the problem of a lot of young people who want change,” Mohamed Mostafa, the defendant’s brother, said in a video clip posted on the social networking website Facebook last week. “The regime’s coercive apparatus is getting more violent and more brutal against young people who constitute the nuclear of any change in society.”

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