Downtown oppressed victims… a glimpse of delayed justice

As a consequence of the huge collapse of the Egyptian judicial authority’s justice and legal standards related to verdicts, decisions and procedures, its total affiliation to the executive authority, and its issuance of thousands of unfair prison sentences and mass death sentences that were handed down without any real evidence to prove the defendants guilty, we were all astonished when Egyptian Court of Cassation handed down a decision to release all of the 105 defendants of the famous case that is known as “Downtown oppressed victims” who submitted the appeal and to postpone the consideration of the appeal to 3 February for consolidation of cases as a prelude to retrying defendants, and on 3 February the case was postponed again for the hearing of pleadings.

The story of downtown oppressed victims goes back to 25 January 2014 when the President and the Minister of Interior called on millions of Egyptians to participate in the 25th of January revolution celebration which was the revolution’s first anniversary after the 30th June revolution but those celebrations turned into huge waves of arrests when civil political wing currents called for commemorating the revolution’s martyrs and raise their political demands, and that’s when they were confronted violently by security forces who made around one thousand arrests all over the country, this confrontation took the form of violent clashes in downtown area  which eventually led to the killing of seven protestors.

And as usual, the Egyptian police charged the protestors with killing their fellow murdered demonstrators during the protest and referred them to Public Prosecution on charges of murder and carrying weapons as well as demonstrating and gathering, and the Public Prosecution in turn investigated the case which included 277 defendant and remanded them in custody for a periods that ranged between  4 days and 4 months.

After the defendants were released successively, everyone thought that the case was doomed to be terminated especially since the other cases in other areas in Cairo, which occurred on the same day, all ended with the acquittal of defendants, but none of those terminated cases included injured or murdered victims as the case of “Downtown oppressed victims” and thus the case which is registered with number 1561/2015 Downtown Cairo and felony number 12096/2014 Abdeen was referred to “Judicial Circuit 21 Terrorism” and hearings were carried out until the verdict was finally issued in presence in 2017 to sentence 15 defendants to one year of imprisonment and another year under police surveillance after acquitting them of murder, attempted murder and carrying weapons accusations, a verdict which many considered an achievement in view of similar political cases verdicts which resulted in hundreds of death sentences, and thus the 15 sentenced defendant filed a cassation appeal but it was rejected in contrary to the expectations of all those who were following the case.

The ”Downtown oppressed victims” Facebook page published photos of the detainees releasing moment where they were received by friends and families on Monday 5 May 2014.

After handing down the verdict, 128 of the defendants applied to be retried seeking more justice and another verdict was handed down in 2019 sentencing 121 defendant to one year of imprisonment and another year under police surveillance and 7 defendants were sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment an one year of police surveillance, after that 105 defendant filed a cassation appeal hopelessly in the view of the prior aforementioned verdict  especially as the Public Prosecution submitted a pleading brief demanding from the court to reject the appeal for most of the defendants.

However, on 20 January 2020, after six years since the date of case’s first taken procedure, finally the “Oppressed Victims case” witnessed a glimpse of delayed justice when the Court while Considering their appeal which is registered with the no. 15779/89 handed down a decision to release all of the defendants and postpone the case to 3 February to consolidation of the case’s files  and retry defendants, and then postpone the case again till 17 February.

While the decision doesn’t acquit the defendants yet, but it gives them great hope to be released during the case proceedings without additional days in detention or custody.

DAAM Center  praises the honorable Egyptian judiciary members who insist on adhering to the Egyptian Judiciary’s prestige and greatness, carry out justice and obey provisions of law.

And DAAM Center calls on the rest of the Egyptian judiciary members to follow the good example and lead of those honorable members in order to regain the Egyptian judiciary’s independence and role in implementing justice.

And Finally, DAAM Center praises all human rights defenders in Egypt who are working to achieve justice even while clinging to weak hopes.

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