The Qasr El-Nil Misdemeanour Court held its first session Tuesday in the trial of 80 defendants arrested during protests commemorating the revolution’s fourth anniversary on 25 January.
However, police authorities did not bring the defendants to court, according to defence lawyer Sameh Samir, of independent group the “Front to Defend Protesters” and the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).
The 80 defendants include 12 minors, and will have a court hearing Sunday, Samir told Daily News Egypt Tuesday. The court adjourned the trial of the remaining 68 to next Tuesday.
The defendants are facing charges of violating the Protest Law and holding non-peaceful group assemblies and assaulting police officers, mainly in the Downtown areas of Talaat Harb and Abdul Moneim Riyad Squares.
“They were arbitrarily and randomly arrested,” Samir added.
Lawyers claimed the judicial system has become complicit with the state, serving as a tool to reinforce and execute oppressive measures on freedoms, with a particular crackdown on young political activists.
“I can’t deny that judges take direct orders from high sate authorities,” Sameh said. “And the orders are to take revenge from the revolution, by assigning judges who hate the revolution because they see its icons as enemies of the state.”
When asked what would make this case’s verdicts any different, Samir said: “Probably because it is a low-profile case, not involving any popular figures and away from media attention.” In other words, “the more revolutionary icons are concerned, the more complicated it gets”, Samir said.
With reports of thousands of political detainees imprisoned, and an increasing number of students jailed or tried before military courts, Al-Sisi occasionally announces “the revision of some cases and release of some hundred that were falsely imprisoned”. Those occasions are defined by nationally celebrated events, such as Eid and even the revolution’s anniversary.
In a recent speech addressing the nation Sunday, Al-Sisi announced that a group of nearly 100 youth should be released soon. “Pardons are rumours that don’t actually happen,” Samir commented, explaining that sometimes they release small numbers of students, and that is all.
While protests were praised during the 18 days of the revolution of 25 January, 2011, as well as anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests in the week of 30 June, 2013, they became a crime punishable by the law issued in November 2013.
Today, not only have protests become illegal, but they have lost public support and suffered an inability to mobilise the masses.
“Even respectful and influential politicians would be very wrong to call for protests against the regime at the time being. We must admit people are sick of protests and big fans of Al-Sisi,” Ahmed Fawzy, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), stated in a seminar regarding the Egyptian youth and political life earlier in February.
Every year, 25 January is day where young people rebel against the ruling regime for failing to “achieve the demands of the revolution”. Meanwhile, the court acquitted Mubarak, his sons and men, after his lawyer Farid El-Deeb had made his defence during Mubarak’s August trial session, qualifying the revolution as a “foreign conspiracy”.
On a similar note, both uprisings that succeeded in removing two presidents, Hosni Mubarak then Mohamed Morsi, were backed by the Egyptian army.
The army also assumed power after the presidents were removed: once under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, from 11 February 2011 to 30 June 2012; then after 3 July 2013, finally making their rule official with the inauguration of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in June 2014.