A Cairo court acquitted Sunday 12 minors arrested on charges of illegal protests on 25 January, marking the revolution’s fourth anniversary, according to defence lawyer Sameh Samir.
Samir was positive ahead of the verdict, and previously told Daily News Egypt: “It is a small case of random arrests.”
The defendants are part of a larger group arrested in the Downtown Cairo area, and number 80 in total. Their trial was scheduled to start last Tuesday at the Qasr Al-Nil Misdemeanour Court. However, Samir said that police authorities did not bring the defendants to court, resulting in postponement of the trial.
This has become recurrent in trials involving detained protesters, according to rights’ lawyers, to keep detainees imprisoned for a longer period under temporary detention pending trial. Samir explained that prosecution authorities can set a date for a trial, but that the Ministry of Interior is also free to bring or keep the defendants from attending their court hearings.
During the Shura Council trial, a young man was sentenced to 15 years in absentia after failing to attend a court session. Media Spokesperson for the 6 April Youth Movement Sherif El-Roubi identified the defendant as a member of the group arrested during protests commemorating the revolution’s anniversary, currently in police custody.
On 20 January, a group of human rights advocates and activists, including Laila Soueif, launched an initiative named “Freedom for the children, freedom for the future”. The initiative was inspired by and involved members of a popular group supporting political detainees called ‘Freedom for the Brave’.
The group said there were at least 478 minors detained in political cases. The father of a 16-year-old detainee said he was arrested following a complaint by a man who was working on Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s presidential campaign. “He accused my son of destroying the posters,” the father said in a video published by the campaign’s Facebook page.
The father claimed his son has been detained since May in a Central Security Forces camp in Banha, an illegal detention centre and where visits are almost completely banned. The father said that every time he tried to obtain a permit to be able to see his son, he was told by authorities that the area is ‘a military zone’, falling outside of their control.
The man also spoke of his sons’ colleagues, knew them by name, as well as details on their cases. He said that several have been transferred to military trials on terrorism charges.
“My question to the authorities is: if you categorise a child as a terrorist, what would you expect him to become when he grows up?”