June 19, 2017 / 11:46 AM / a year ago

Policeman in Egypt jailed 10 years for killing activist

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian criminal court on Monday sentenced a policeman to 10 years in prison for killing an activist during a march marking the fourth anniversary of a 2011 uprising.

First Lieutenant Yaseen Hatem was charged in March 2015 with action that “led to the death” of 32-year-old Shaimaa Sabbagh, a lighter charge than murder, but still a rare action against a member of the security forces.

Judge Ahmed Aboul Fotouh Sulieman of the South Cairo Criminal Court read out the verdict on Monday.

Another court had initially sentenced Hatem to 15 years in June 2015, but the ruling was overturned by the Court of Cassation which ordered a retrial of the case in February, 2016.

Hatem may appeal against Monday’s verdict to the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s top court, which could either uphold it or order a retrial for the second and final time.

Sabbagh was killed when Hatem fired birdshot to disperse a march organised in the capital’s centre in January 2015 to commemorate the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

“From a personal standpoint, we will not be stratified with any verdict to avenge the martyr, but from a legal standpoint, we are, for the first time, witnessing the punishment of a member of the police force for harming or killing a protester since 2011,” said her family’s lawyer Sayed Abu al-Ela.

Images of Abu al-Ela carrying Sabbagh’s bloodied body after she had been fired on from close range sparked outrage among Egyptians who had hoped the 2011 revolt would bring an end to police violence.

Abu al-Ela was a friend of Sabbagh and a fellow member of the socialist party she belonged to.

Egypt banned protests in 2013 amid violence which followed the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi as a result of mass protests against his rule.

The ban angered many Egyptians who saw demonstration as one of the main gains of the uprising.

Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad; Additional reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Writing by Arwa Gaballa; Editing by Ed Osmond

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