‘Ahmed Said and the other activists should never have been on trial in the first place’ - Said Boumedouha
Yesterday’s appeal court ruling in Egypt upholding a two-year prison sentence for five activists who were convicted of taking part in a protest last year, is yet another example of the unfair and arbitrary nature of Egypt’s criminal justice system, Amnesty International said.
Surgeon and poet Ahmed Said was among the five activists - the others are Mostafa Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed, Karim Khaled Fathy, Mohamed Abdel-Hamid and Gamila Seryel-Dain - who were arrested and jailed in November for allegedly taking part in a protest.
However, according to defence lawyers working on the case, there is no evidence proving that the protest - as stated in a National Security Agency’s investigations report - actually took place. The report of a “protest” is based on the investigations of a single NSA officer, but at least two of the activists say they were tortured and ill-treated during interrogation.
Meanwhile, some of the offences for which the five were convicted - such as assembling without a permit - are in themselves contrary to international standards as they criminalise the exercise of protected human rights, while others - such as disrupting traffic - were unfounded.
Amnesty is calling for the release of all five activists.
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said:
“This verdict, coming on the heels of the ‘25 January Revolution’ anniversary, is another sad sign that Egypt’s criminal justice system is itself unfit for purpose.
“Ahmed Said and the other activists should never have been on trial in the first place. Their case is one more appalling example of the relentless government campaign to crush independent and critical voices and activists in Egypt today.”
In a prolonged crackdown in the country, tens of thousands of people having been arrested, with widespread reports of torture and hundreds held without charge or trial. Amnesty has warned that the country had reverted back to being a “police state” in the years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
In December, Ahmed Said wrote a letter
from prison in which he said “I would remain a prisoner, even if I were outside, and we will all remain prisoners in their massive jail.”