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Protester released after spending eight months in jail

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 30 November 2011 - An appeal submitted by ANHRI's freedom of expression legal defence team has lead to the end of the imprisonment of Egyptian citizen Nassary Hassan and the repeal the fine issued against him by the Military Tribunal.

The charges were fabricated by military police officers and the military governor of Hurghada as a result of Hassan's civilized and peaceful way of expressing his views. The sentence by the military court in Qena was amended to be a six-month imprisonment instead of three years, and a fine of 5000 LE (approx. US$830). That means Hassan should have been released in March 2011, as he had already spent more than eight months in prison, which is more than the prison sentence.

The circumstances of the case date back to 13 March 2011. That was when Hassan, an Egyptian who lives in Germany, saw piles of garbage in the streets of Hurghada. He carried a banner saying, "The people want to clean Hurghada", and marched towards the City Council, where he was asked to leave by one of the military police officers. When he refused to leave, he was beaten and verbally abused by the soldiers until he lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. Moreover, after he awakened, he requested a doctor write a report about his injuries; but unfortunately, the doctor refused after he learned that Hassan had been assaulted by the military police.

Later on, Hassan obtained the Military Governor's phone number, whom he called and told him about what happened. However, the Military Governor told him to go back to the City Council and meet him at his office there, and when he did, he found a large number of police officers waiting for him, who then beat him and verbally abused him. They took him to a military court where he was charged with libel and slandering the Armed Forces and a military officer. He was referred to the Military Court at Qena, which sentenced him to three years' imprisonment and a fine on 24 March. However, in May, ANHRI filed an appeal disputing the sentence and after considering the appeal, the court decided to commute the sentence to six months' imprisonment and a fine of 5000 LE. The release procedures are now underway.

ANHRI deeply regrets the outcome of the trial that ended with the conviction of this Egyptian citizen, who returned from Germany to share his friends' joy over the success of the revolution, and who thought that the abuses by the security services in Mubarak's police state had ended with his ouster. He did not know that military police officers would commit violations under the transitional government.

ANHRI affirms that it is going to continue addressing such unfair military trials through all possible legal means, until they end completely, and will continue to call for retrials of civilians who were charged by military courts instead of civil courts.

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