Egypt sentences 78 minors up to 5 years in jail

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Students of Cairo University march during an anti-coup protest in Cairo, Egypt on November 17, 2014. Anadolu / Stringer

Published Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Egyptian court Wednesday sentenced 78 minors between two and five years in prison for taking part in demonstrations calling for the return of ousted president Mohammed Mursi, judicial sources said.

Wednesday’s court ruling came days after two protesters succumbed to injuries sustained during the forcible dispersal by Egyptian police of an opposition rally west of Cairo.

The authorities have relentlessly repressed all kinds of opposition – Islamist as well as secular – since Mursi’s ouster last July, after mass protests demanded an end to the Islamist one-year rule.

Following the ouster, authorities banned the Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement, and launched a heavy cracked down on its members, leaving at least 1,400 dead and 15,000 jailed, including hundreds sentenced to death for allegedly taking part in deadly riots in August 2013.

Mursi himself is standing several trials on charges ranging from espionage to militancy, and could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Earlier this month, Egypt was brought in front of the UN’s top human rights body for a litany of rights abuses, including its crackdown, mass arrests and unfair trials targeting mainly Mursi supporters, journalists and activists, described as “unprecedented in recent history.”

Besides Islamists, many of the leading secular activists behind the 2011 uprising which ousted former President Hosni Mubarak have also found themselves on the wrong side of the new political leadership, getting locked up for taking part in peaceful demonstrations following a recent ban on unlicensed protests.

According to rights group Amnesty International, security forces often use provisions under the Protest Law to justify the excessive use of force to disperse protests, and arrest demonstrators.

The Protest law (107 of 2013) “allows the security forces to use firearms against peaceful protestors.”

Late October, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved of a military decree, similar to Mubarak’s martial law, to expand military power under the title of “ensuring stability.”

The military decree is one of the many moves to clamp down on dissent by a government that has jailed thousands of political opponents, curbed protests, and forced NGOs to register with the government, a move that forced some of the organizations to shutdown to avoid abiding by the “repressive law.”

The new decree categorizes state institutions as military facilities and considers attacks against these facilities as a crime against the armed forces.

The Egyptian military already had the right to try civilians accused of attacking its personnel, but the new martial law broadens the army's jurisdiction considerably.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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