CAIRO - 15 August 2017: Twenty months after the “dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest” case began in court, it remains ongoing due to adjournments and medical release grants, awaiting a final verdict to determine the destiny of around 700 defendants.
The Rabaa al-Adawiya protest was arranged by supporters of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in rejection to his ouster and was dispersed by security forces in August 2013.
The first court session had started on December 13, 2015 and resumed again on March 26, 2016. Both sessions were postponed, as the cage placed in the court was not big enough to hold the defendants.
Individuals involved in this case are mainly Muslim Brotherhood (MB) affiliates, including Supreme Guide of the group Mohamed Badie, vice-chairperson Essam El-Erian, and other Islamist figures. The defendants are facing accusations of unauthorized assembly, use of force, premeditated murder, and the possession of weapons and bombs.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders behind court dock during trial - File photo
The last session was held on August 5, 2017, but was postponed after a lawyer of one of the defendants requested the changing of the judicial panel, claiming that there is “enmity” between the panel and his clients.
During this session, two defendants were granted medical releases, adding to others released in previous sessions, after their lawyers submitted documents to the judicial panel proving their illness.
For around two years, the case has remained pending in court due to the continuous debate between the defense team and judicial panel. Medical releases of defendants, withdraws of lawyers, and changing judicial panels were also among the reasons delaying a final verdict in the case.
In one situation considered as a hindrance for the path of the initial case, which occurred on February 25, 2017, defendants chanted against the panel, calling on it to view CDs and flash memories that would improve their condition in the case. The judicial panel responded to the defendants’ request, saying that a technical committee will be assigned to review the materials and will send reports about them to the panel.
However, the defendants and the lawyers insisted on their stance, leading the judge to hand a group of the defendants one year prison sentences on accusations of insulting the judicial panel.
Rabaa trial: 2 years of delay - Infographics by Ahmed Hussein
A similar case occurred on May 17, 2016, when one of the lawyers spoke in a provocative manner, leading to a verbal dispute between him and the court panel, ending with his referral to the disciplinary board and the postponement of the case.
Currently, the House of Representatives is discussing the Criminal Procedures Code to ensure limiting obstacles hindering the process of fast litigation. Two cases, including the case of the assassination of Former General Prosecutor Hesham Barkat, have been finalized in accordance with recent amendments approved by Parliament in April, after MP Salah Hassaballah of the Egypt Support coalition. The amendment focused on improving some regulations for concluding terrorism-related cases.
The Rabaa dispersal case and other violence-related cases could see fast litigation following the approval of the new amendments. Parliament decided on three extraordinary sessions to discuss a full amendment of the law in August with Minister of Justice Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim and General Prosecutor Nabil Sadek in attendance.
Over the past few years, the law has witnessed a total of 20 partial amendments, but has never been fully amended, stated the cabinet in July, according to state-run Al Ahram newspaper. In November 2014, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had approved amendments to the law in absence of Parliament, which had resumed its session in 2016. Moreover, a number of articles were previously amended in 2003.
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