Top News: Police Officer Sentenced to Fifteen Years for Death of Activist Sabbagh; Witnesses Face Retrial

An Egyptian court has sentenced a police officer to fifteen years in prison for the killing of a protester during a peaceful demonstration in Cairo in January. Cairo’s criminal court found 24-year-old police lieutenant Yassin Hatem Salahedeen guilty of manslaughter of 32-year-old activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh. Salahedeen addressed the court before the verdict was handed down, denying responsibility for Sabbagh’s killing and saying he had no ammunition in his weapon. “We were there for security, not to kill anyone,” he said. “This is our job.” A lawyer representing the slain woman said the ruling was fair. “The ruling achieves justice and retribution,” said Amir Salem. The sentence can still be appealed before the country’s highest appeal court. Meanwhile, an Egyptian court is also set to hear an appeal on Saturday in the case of seventeen eyewitnesses who went on trial after providing testimony on Sabbagh’s death. Prosecutors lodged the appeal in May after the seventeen witnesses were acquitted at an initial trial in Cairo. They had been charged under a law enacted in 2013 that criminalizes street protests held without an Interior Ministry permit. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 6/12/2015]


Egypt’s doctors call on Health Minister to resign
The Egyptian doctors’ syndicate has called on the country’s Health Minister to resign in the face of the deteriorating state of health services in Egypt. The call comes against the backdrop of an online campaign sharing pictures of the adverse conditions they work in, showing stray animals and garbage at hospitals. In a statement on Thursday, the union called on Health Minister Adel Adawy to resign after his administration proved “complete and increasing failure” in handling the sector’s multiple problems of “lack and improper use of resources, chaos, lack of discipline and corruption.” The union demanded radical changes to the country’s health sector, including a higher health budget and its supervision, an end to hospital privatization, and a comprehensive health insurance program for all Egyptians. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 6/11/2015]  

Mahlab establishes higher council for digital community
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has ordered the establishment of a higher council for the digital community. The council, headed by the Prime Minister himself, includes the ministers of defense, communications and information technology, local development, planning, interior, justice, and the top prosecutor, as well as the head of the General Intelligence Service. The council will be tasked with developing an integrated system to establish the rules for a national entity for the digital society, and with drafting its policies and priorities. The Council, which may seek the assistance of experts and security services, will submit a monthly report to the President with the results of its work. [Egypt Independent, 6/11/2015]

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  • FT: Younger Brotherhood members favor violent protests deepening internal divisions | Egypt Independent
  • ElBaradei suggests government misunderstands citizen’s priorities | Egypt Independent
  • Socialists criticize economics, politics in Sisi’s first year | Egypt Independent


Interior Ministry says 3,977 arrested in 2015 for alleged Muslim Brotherhood membership
Nearly 3,977 were arrested in 2015 on charges of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, according to official reports from the Ministry of Interior. Daily News Egypt aggregated the reports published by the ministry from January 2 through May 31, 2015 on those arrested upon suspicion of belonging to the Brotherhood. The arrested were mainly categorized as middle rank Brotherhood leaders, members of specialized committees, or people wanted pending court sentences. In the wake of a cabinet reshuffle that saw that Minister of Interior replace, the numbers of arrests announced during March alone ranked the highest, up to 1,359, greatly exceeding the sum of arrests of January and February together, which amounted to 276. In the following months, the numbers remained high amounting to 1,188 in April, and 1,154 in May. [DNE, 6/11/2015]

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Egypt approves proposal to set up sovereign investment fund
The Egyptian government has approved a proposal to set up a sovereign investment fund to support economic development through returns on the state’s assets and resources. The fund, called Amlak, will be state-owned through the National Investment Bank. It will act as the state’s investment arm and aims to encourage diversification and support sustainable economic and social development. A statement by the cabinet said that the state will not manage investments directly. “The aim is to set up a highly effective investment fund that is able to participate with financial institutions and sovereign Arab and international funds in mega-projects”, Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby said. He did not give details on when the fund would be created or how much money it would manage. [Reuters, 6/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority gains powers to set up joint-stock firms | Reuters
  • Number of tourists in Egypt rose by 7.4 percent in April: CAPMAS | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya   
  • Fuel crisis returns in governorates | Egypt Independent
  • Planning Minister: Amlak Fund to start with LE5 billion capital | Egypt Independent
  • Anadolu: Egypt’s economic woes unite Sisi supporters, opponents | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s market loses $1.13 billion in a week, EGX30 drops 3.2 percent | Egypt Independent  
  • Army: 65 days for the new Suez Canal dream to come true | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt to end local wheat buying season earlier than scheduled – minister | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt to issue one-year T-bill worth $700 million | Reuters


Violations during Sisi’s first year “worst” since 1993 says human rights organization
A report on violations committed by the police during the first year of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s tenure counted nearly 300 cases of torture and almost 300 more deaths at the hands of security personnel or within detention facilities. The Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture said in a report released on Thursday that Sisi’s one year in power is “the worst ever in terms of human rights violations since the organization’s establishment in 1993.” The center said it holds Sisi responsible for the violations, “since he is president and therefore responsible for the state’s policies and institutions.” [Aswat Masriya, 6/11/2015]

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More police than tourists in Egypt’s Luxor after foiled attack
The Karnak temple in Egypt’s Luxor was open as usual Thursday despite a foiled suicide and gun attack on the world-famous site that police said would have been a “massacre.” At around 10:00 am, by which time dozens of tourist buses would normally be parked around the ancient temple, only seven coaches and three minibuses had arrived, an AFP correspondent said. About 200 tourists were strolling inside the temple itself, but were far outnumbered by police around the site. Despite the security concerns of tourists, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab declared that the site was safe in a televised speech from Karnak on Thursday. Mahlab had travelled to Luxor Thursday to inspect the security situation. Meanwhile, a militant who was wounded during the foiled terrorist attack is in an “unstable” condition, a hospital official announced on Thursday. The alleged attacker, who was not named, is suffering from brain lacerations and is in a coma, the manager of Luxor International Hospital Ahmed Abdel-Nabi told MENA agency. He added that the two policemen and a civilian who were injured in the attack left hospital on Thursday evening. [AFP, AP,  Reuters, 6/12/2015]  

Family says forcibly disappeared detainee is in al-Aqrab Prison, administration denies
Omar Mohamed, who has been missing for the past ten days, has reportedly been found in a detention cell at al-Aqrab Prison. Mohamed’s family received reports from detainees that he was seen inside the prison on June 8, according to Duaa al-Taweel, the sister of Esraa al-Taweel who was taken with Omar Mohamed. The prison administration however still denies he is there. The family Esraa al-Taweel, Suhaib Saad, and Omar Mohamed all disappeared on June 1 at approximately 9:30 pm from Maadi after going out for dinner and horseback riding. Their families stated they received notice that security forces had arrested around 150 people from Maadi that day. The families of Taweel and Saad still have no information their whereabouts. Meanwhile, the family of another student, Omar Gamal, 21, says he disappeared while sitting with his family in the Aviation Club in Heliopolis on June 2, 2015. There has been no notification of his arrest, formal charges filed or even a warrant for his arrest from the prosecutor, but family and friends say he was taken by police. Gamal is a third-year student at the 10th Ramadan High Engineering Institute and according to his sister, he has no political affiliations. Gamal’s whereabouts remain unknown. [DNE, 6/12/2015]


UK, US, EU condemn terrorist attack in Luxor
The European Union, United States and UK condemned a Wednesday suicide bombing near Karnak temple of Luxor Wednesday, expressing their support to Egypt against “terrorism.”  UK Minister for North Africa Tobias Ellwood said in a statement on Wednesday, “I strongly condemn the appalling terrorist attack today in Luxor in Egypt.” He added, “The UK continues to stand with the Egyptian government and people in their fight against terrorist violence.” The US embassy in Cairo also commended the police officers and citizens who managed to foil the attack. “We extend our sympathies to those who sustained injuries. We also condemn the attack on the Multinational Force and Observers mission (MFO) base in North Sinai.  The United States continues to stand with the Egyptian government and people in the ongoing fight against terrorism.” The EU joined in the condemnations, also asserting their support of the country’s efforts to combat ‘violent extremism.’ “The EU will keep supporting Egypt’s efforts to tackle violent extremism and prevent new attacks. We extend our sympathies to those wounded,” the EU statement said. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, DNE, 6/12/2015]

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