Top News: Egypt Court Acquits All Defendants in Sabbagh Protesters trial; General Prosecutor Appeals

An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted seventeen people of violating a strict protest law earlier this year at a march commemorating a 2011 uprising, judicial sources said. Defense lawyer Sayed Abu al-Ila, who was photographed with Sabbagh dying in his arms, said this was the first acquittal since the protest law came into force in 2013. The defendants in the case include Popular Socialist Alliance Party Deputy Head Zuhdi al-Shamy, lawyer Azza Soliman and leading leftist figure Ilhamy al-Merghani, among other members of the alliance. Soliman said Saturday’s verdict was a surprise after just one other session. She’s pushing forward with a campaign for a law that protects witnesses and encourages people to testify when they witness government crimes. Egypt’s Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat appealed the acquittal on Tuesday. The Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanor Court of Appeal scheduled the appeal for June 13. [Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Reuters, 5/26/2015]


New military company established with wide mandate
The Ministry of Military Production issued a decree this week ordering the establishment of a military company conducting wide-ranging activities. According to the decree, published in the Official Gazette on May 18, the company, named MP for Engineering Projects, Consultancies, and General Supplies, shall enjoy financial and administrative independence. The decree stipulates that the newly established company serves the Armed Forces, as well as other parties, in a wide range of services including development, contracting and construction for housing, sports facilities, schools, hotels, tourist resorts, hospitals, factories, and roads. The company will also engage in urbanization and urban development activities, public relations and advertising, real estate investment, and tourism. [Mada Masr, 5/23/2015]

Former Muslim Brotherhood Member of Parliament dies in prison
A former Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarian died in prison, the latest death in a rising tally of fatalities in Egypt’s detention centers. Mohamed al-Falahgy, a former member of parliament for Damietta in the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), died in Gamasa prison. He was being held there on pre-trial detention, when he suffered a hepatic encephalopathy but did not receive appropriate medical treatment, according to the FJP’s website.  According to state owned Al-Ahram, security sources refuted those claims, saying that they had transferred Falahgy to the hospital for treatment of kidney stones. Egyptian prosecutors authorized his burial on Monday. Ihab al-Husseiny, a top prosecutor in Damietta, ordered the burial after confirming that there is “no criminal aspect” to the death. The FJP statement estimates that at least 257 people have died in Egyptian prisons since 2013. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 5/25/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s opposition to issue reports on Sisi’s one year in power | Ahram Online
  • Egypt Brotherhood figure highlights ‘nonviolent nature’ | Anadolu Agency
  • Brotherhood leader’s call for ‘peacefulness’ sparks criticism | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Wafd Party says internal rift ‘over’ | Ahram Online
  • Nour Party warns police violations increase opposition to Sisi and government | Egypt Independent
  • Nour Party divisions deepen following undeclared public assembly | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s Electricity Ministry declares “state of emergency” to face summer heat | Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi allows unelected board members of state-run trade union to stay another year | Mada Masr
  • Sabbahi calls for boycotting Mobinil for alleged cooperation with Israel | Cairo Post
  • Aboul Fotouh says judiciary should be politically neutral | Egypt Independent
  • Parties demand quick decision on constitutionality of protest law | Egypt Independent


Police officers prosecuted for rape, torture leading to death
More policemen are facing detention, trial or prison sentences amid increased reports on alleged police brutality against citizens in places of detention. A police conscript was sentenced to life in prison by the Giza Criminal Court on Sunday over charges of sexually assaulting a mentally ill female prisoner inside Imbaba police station, officials said. Also on Sunday, North Damanhour’s prosecutor referred a police officer and two policemen to criminal court Sunday for beating a defendant to death at the Rashid Police Station in Beheira. Meanwhile, residents from Hay al-Zabaleen in Manshayet Nasser detained a policeman after accusing him of killing a woman, Sabah Kamel, while breaking up a dispute between two families in the district. State-owned Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday that there would be an investigation into the events and into the officer accused of killing Kamel, as well as an autopsy to confirm the cause of her death. Finally, East Cairo Prosecution summoned police officers for questioning over the death of Ain Shams University student Islam Salah Eddin Atitu, who was, according to the Interior Ministry, allegedly killed after he opened fire on security personnel during an attempted arrest in the southeast of Cairo. The police officers that have been summoned were reportedly part of the task force that was responsible for arresting Atitu. [DNE, 5/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Badie, seventeen Brotherhood leaders challenge putting them on the terrorists list | Egypt Independent
  • Court postpones Erdogan’s son denaturalization lawsuit | Egypt Independent
  • Morsi Qatar trial postponed to June 7 | Egypt Independent
  • Morsi, secular camp in dock again for ‘insulting’ judiciary | AFP, Aswat Masriya
  • Three GUC students detained for assault after strike |Ahram Online
  • Two transgender men arrested on prostitution charges | DNE
  • Court upholds controversial TV presenter’s imprisonment | DNE, Cairo Post
  • Morsi supporter sentenced to death on terrorism charges | Ahram Online
  • Suspects arrested in case of stolen Memphis statue | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian army says it has arrested over 6,000 ‘illegal migrants’ since October | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya  
  • Egypt prosecution charges video dancer with ‘debauchery’ | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya
  • Sixty-one alleged Brotherhood members referred to military court | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt court sentences Brotherhood member to death in absentia | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt postpones verdict in appeal to Hamas ‘terrorist’ designation | Ahram Online
  • Six Mansoura University students sentenced to three to seven years in prison by military court | DNE, Egypt Independent
  • Port Said ‘prison clashes’ trial postponed to continue hearing witnesses | DNE
  • More death sentences upheld in Egyptian courts | DNE
  • Sixty-one referred to military prosecution for planning to overthrow state | DNE
  • Court rules it is incompetent to decide whether Israel terrorist entity | Anadolu Agency
  • Morsi to his son: Not concerned about the death sentence | Egypt Independent
  • Doctor’s five year sentence upheld for manslaughter in death of Heba al-Ayouti | Cairo Post
  • Elderly man sues Ministry of Defense to serve in the military | Cairo Post


IMF says Egypt tax delay means rich pay less to cut deficit
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticized Egypt’s decision to delay imposing a capital gains tax on stocks, saying it means that the cost of reducing the budget deficit will be paid by those less able to afford it. The capital gains tax was one measure the government had been pursuing to shore up public finances and restore investor confidence. The government has struggled to raise more money from wealthier Egyptians. In March, officials canceled a 5 percent surcharge on the highest earners, just nine months after it went into effect. Chris Jarvis, the Egypt Mission Chief for the IMF, added that Egypt’s central bank needs to adopt a more flexible exchange rate policy in order to strengthen competitiveness attract investment. [Bloomberg, 5/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt denies Arabtec project to build a million homes has stalled | Reuters
  • Labor Syndicate elections postponement will increase strikes: EDSP | DNE
  • Egypt extends Mediterranean gas exploration tender by two months | Reuters
  • One free market for three main African economic blocs: Trade minister | DNE
  • Foreign partners’ dues now amount to $3.5 billion: EGPC Official | DNE
  • $45 billion for Egypt’s new, renewable energy sector: Investment Minister | DNE , Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt’s cotton exports increase 94.3percent year-on-year: CAPMAS | DNE , Aswat Masriya , Cairo Post
  • Electricity Ministry: Committed to price restructuring over five years | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt picks banks for first international bond issue in five years | Reuters , Cairo Post


Prosecutor General refers senior executives, staff of news website to court
Egypt’s top prosecutor Hisham Barakat referred on Monday the chairman of al-Bayan newspaper to criminal court for “publishing false news” and illegally practicing journalism, alongside the newspaper’s chief editor and one of its journalists. Barakat said in a statement on Monday that the newspaper published a “false” news story on its website last week saying that six prosecutors were assassinated on the Cairo-Suez Road. Under Secretary for the Journalists’ Syndicate Khaled al-Balshy said the decision has brought about a state of anxiety on the freedom of press. In a note to the Syndicate, Barakat added that it should take “measures to limit the number of unregistered journalists to protect media ethics.” Press Syndicate member Mahmoud Kamel said, however, that the Syndicate law is outdated. Meanwhile, a campaign advocating press freedom has denounced the arrest of a Journalist Syndicate official, Essam Moselhy, on Saturday, dismissing the incident as a fresh violation of the freedom of expression and press freedom. The Committee to Defend Press Independence said Moselhy was unjustifiably arrested on Saturday without prior notice to the syndicate. It said the incident was a legal violation which it had previously warned state bodies against. Finally, the Front for Defending Journalists and Freedoms has called for the release of journalist Youssef Shaaban, detained since May 11 in relation to the appeal to a case in which he was accused of “attacking” an Alexandria police station in 2013. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE , Aswat Masriya, 5/25/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Journalists’ Syndicate calls for investigating ‘Black Wednesday’ events | Egypt Independent
  • Campaign urges international solidarity with Egypt political prisoners | Egypt Independent
  • Farmers decry farmlands illegally seized by state | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt shuts down fifty NGOs for Brotherhood ties | Aswat Masriya
  • Power outages return to Sohag villages | Egypt Independent
  • Interior Ministry halts plans to reopen Sadat metro station | Mada Masr
  • Policemen in Sharqeya protest over reshuffle | Cairo Post
  • Minister on pornography ban: Correct upbringing more important | Egypt Independent
  • Rights group demands halt to military trials of children | Egypt Independent


Assailants kill conscript after kidnapping him in Egypt’s North Sinai
Alleged Islamist militants killed one conscript in Egypt’s North Sinai on Friday after kidnapping him from inside an ambulance, head of Egypt’s ambulance authority Ahmed al-Ansary said. Gunmen stopped the ambulance that was carrying two injured conscripts, a medic and the driver, Ansary told Ahram Online. The body of the abducted soldier was later found about 30km down the road near Sheikh Zuweid. Additionally, a soldier was killed, and an officer and nine citizens injured, in clashes with extremists Monday, during a crackdown in the Aboul Refaay area, south Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai, according to eyewitnesses. The eyewitnesses added that a large number of extremists were injured and killed. Later on Monday, Security forces killed twelve suspected militants during raids on North Sinai’s cities of al-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid. Security sources said that eighteen suspects were also arrested during the raids, adding that forces destroyed “terrorist hotbeds” as well. Unidentified shelling in the North Sinai town of Rafah also occurred on Monday evening, leaving a nurse dead and her daughter injured, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported. A North Sinai resident told Daily News Egypt that several explosions caused by mortar shells occurred on Monday evening in the vicinity of the Central Security camp in Rafah. Finally, Armed Forces have destroyed 521 tunnel openings on the borders with Gaza in North Sinai, over the past six months. Military Spokesperson Mohamed Samir said the border guards destroyed 521 tunnel openings in six months, including sixty-three openings that were located 1-2.8 km from the borders. He added that some tunnels were outfitted with railways and communication rooms. The Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces, according to Samir, is working on a solution that will end the tunnel problem. Those plans will be revealed at a later date. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 5/26/2015]

Also of Interest


Egypt says will launch ground intervention in Yemen if necessary
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry declared Sunday that Egypt would send ground troops to Yemen if the situation called for such military action. “Egypt is participating in the Yemen coalition through air, sea and ground if necessary, but we have not got to this point now,” the Minister said on Sky News. Egypt is strongly concerned over the humanitarian situation in Yemen, he said, adding that there is no way to resolve the crisis in the country except through national dialogue. A special envoy of Yemeni President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi expressed appreciation for Egypt’s participation in the coalition leading military operations in Yemen, in a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday. Spokesperson for Hadi, Abdallah al-Saydi, and Sisi addressed recent Yemeni developments, in connection with Hadi’s announcement that he will not participate in talks between Yemeni parties in Geneva, later this month. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 5/25/2015]

Despite boycott, Libyan tribes meet in Cairo as Egypt seeks help in fighting militants
Hundreds of Libyan tribal leaders met in Cairo on Monday with Egyptian authorities hoping to enlist their help in preventing Islamist violence from spilling over their shared border. The three-day conference of Libyan tribes began despite being boycotted by a number of individuals, tribes, and organizations. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry inaugurated the tribal conference, which runs through Thursday, by highlighting the positive role the tribes could play in restoring stability to Libya. He also said that the tribal leaders are the backbone of society and the main guarantor of Libyan stability, security, and territorial integrity, adding that invitations to the talks were extended only to representatives of influential tribes, not to militias or political forces. [Reuters, Libya Herald, Aswat Masriya, 5/25/2015]

Egypt, US blame each other for failure of consensus at nuclear non-proliferation talks
The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to “cynically manipulate” the process by setting a deadline for Israel and its neighbors to meet within months on a Middle East zone free of such weapons. Egypt accused the United States and other delegations of deliberately trying to “hinder” efforts to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. US concerns were echoed by Canada and Britain. The now-failed final document of a landmark treaty review conference had called on the UN Secretary-General to convene the Middle East conference no later than March 2016, regardless of whether Israel and its neighbors agree on an agenda. [Aswat Masriya, AP, Reuters, 5/24/2015]

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