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ANHRI condemns ruling against filmmaker, his assistant

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 5 July 2012 - ANHRI condemns a 4 July 2012 ruling issued by the Helwan Misdemeanor Court sentencing Ashraf Nabil and his assistant, Ahmed Helmy Abdulsamd, to six-month suspended prison terms, as well as a fine of EGP 200 (approx. US$33). In early June, Nabil and Helmy were in Helwan filming a short movie about election bribery, entitled "Do not Sell", when they were attacked by supporters of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik. They were then detained by members of Shafik's campaign team and taken to the Helwan police station. The campaign team members pressed charges against them for "publishing false news about a presidential candidate", although the movie was never finished or publicly screened.

The Helwan Public Prosecutor's Office placed a four-day preventive custody order against them, and also ordered that another colleague of theirs, Abdullah Hasan, who accompanied them in filming the movie, be apprehended. Their case was then forwarded to the courts.

ANHRI said, "Recognised fair trial procedures were not followed in Ashraf's trial. The trial represents a breach of judiciary independence owing to a bias in favour of political interests instead of the law. (. . .) The ruling represents a violation of freedom of expression and freedom of opinion, particularly since the documentary did not exceed the limits of permissible criticism. Such criticism should be protected by the courts instead of punishing those who exercise this legitimate right."

ANHRI's legal support unit for freedom of expression will appeal the ruling against Nabil and his assistant.

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