Sixteen human rights advocacy groups have condemned jail terms issued against renowned secular activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others for taking part into protests against military trials back in 2013.
The groups said they were “extremely disturbed by the verdict” against Abdel Fattah, a prominent figure of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. They said in their joint statement that the defendants were prosecuted over “trumped-up charges”, where had been filed “against citizens who were exercising their right to peaceful expression”.
The organizations also decried what they described as violations during the due process.
“Although the defendants, who were out on bail at the time, attended the first session of the retrial on 27 October, the judge remanded them to custody, apparently to punish them for one defendant’s stance on political events at the time,” said the statement.
It also said that the court division that issued the verdict, assigned with terrorism trials, is known for its harsh verdicts.
“The court that issued the sentence is one of the terrorism circuits established specifically to repress political opponents through appointed judges. Most of the sentences issued by these circuits have been extremely severe, and the trials have been marked by violations of the right of defense and due process standards. This is demonstrated by the numerous verdicts issued by these circuits that have been overturned by the Court of Cassation.”
Signatories to the statement include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.