The Cairo Criminal Court ruled Wednesday morning to acquit seven police officers of murdering and injuring protesters during the events of “the Friday of rage” on 28 January 2011, according to state-run news agency MENA.
Eyewitnesses testified to the prosecutor general that the police officers murdered one protester and attempted to murder 11 others. However, several of the defendants maintain that they were not present during the events. The prosecutor general later referred the case to the Cairo Criminal Court which found insufficient evidence to convict the officers and ordered their acquittal.
Human rights lawyer, Amr Imam, was concerned but not surprised by the verdict. “Civilians were killed, and someone needs to be held responsible,” Imam said.
Continued police impunity was one of the concerns that the United States Department of State raised in a recent report on Egypt’s transition to democracy. Though it claimed that “slight progress” had been made in holding security personnel accountable since the revolution, the report acknowledged that most prosecution of police had resulted in acquittals, such as was the case on Wednesday.
The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton also expressed concerns over the issue of police impunity in a recent address to the European Parliament. She also raised concerns over the many reported cases of torture, abuse, and attacks on the freedom of expression.