Politicized sentences against activists ongoing
Cairo – May 8th, 2012
ANHRI condemns the court ruling upholding the verdict sentencing the activist Asmaa Mahfouz to one year imprisonment with labor in case No. 20994 of 2011 brought before Ain Shams Court of Misdemeanors on charges of “beating” Abdel-Aziz Fahmy, a supporter of the Supreme council of Armed Forces (SCAF) in front of the office of the Attorney-General. ANHRI considers the ruling as a throwback to politicized sentences against opposition activists, a phenomenon that was supposed to disappear in post-revolution Egypt. The politicization of the sentence is clear in the details of the trial and the background of the civil plaintiff.
The incident took place on December 6th, 2011, when Fahmy lodged a report at Ain Shams police station, accusing Mahfouz of “beating” him in front of the office of the Attorney-General, despite the fact that she was no present at all on that day any where in the vicinity of the office.
The case was referred to the Criminal Court which began to deliberate it on March 6th, 2012 without notifying Mahfouz. She was sentenced to one year in prison with labor and a bail of 2000 pounds for stay of execution. ANHRI’s lawyers filed an opposition of the sentence and a session was fixed on April 17th, but it was postponed to May 8th where the in absentia sentence was upheld by the same court presided by judge Mohamed al-Baghdady.
The legal aid unit of ANHRI has proved the invalidity of the medical report due to the lack of timing and official seal in it. Additionally, it contradicted with the statements of the alleged victim in regards to the details of the physical injury. In the police report, Fahmy said that the injury was an incised wound caused by beating with an iron rod, whereas the medical report referred to bruises and abrasions that would take less than a twenty-one days treatment to heal.
The defense team also submitted a CD that contains an audio recording of the civil plaintiff speaking with a journalist and acknowledging that Mahfouz did not assault him, but rather that he was assaulted by someone else with a wooden stick, not an iron rod as he claimed in the police report. Nevertheless, the court did not consider this nor did it assign a sound expert to examine the recording.
“It is surprising that the civil plaintiff failed to bring any witnesses to acknowledge the incident, although it was in front of the Supreme Court House which is a place teeming with pedestrians. It is even more surprising that the court failed to assign experts to examine the defense evidence of the lawyers, although it is the norm that it investigates the defense provided in cases of imprisonment sentences,” said ANHRI.
ANHRI is deeply alarmed over the throwback to politicized sentences against opposition activists to punish them for their activity. “It seems that SCAF has failed to try activists in military courts because of the heavy media criticism of military trials. Hence, it has resorted to cut corners relying on its supporters to threaten and silence activists,” added ANHRI
It is worth noting that Fahmy is used to file complaints against political activists. He had filed a complaint against the activists Esraa Abdel-Fattah and Nawara Negm, and a complaint to the military prosecution against Mahfouz and other 6th of April activists. He was also a prosecution witness against the activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah in the Maspero case.