Egyptian court has sentenced 23 activists to three years in prison each for violating a controversial legislation that imposes stringent restrictions on public protests in the North African country.
The Cairo court handed down the sentence on Sunday and also fined each of the activists 10,000 Egyptian pounds (USD 1,400).
The defendants were found guilty of holding an unlicensed protest four months ago and blocking off a road during their demonstration.
The activists were arrested on June 21 after taking part in a rally, which called for the release of detainees and the annulment of the restrictive anti-protest law.
Ahmed Ezzat, one of the defense lawyers, condemned the verdict as “political,” arguing that “It has no legal grounding.”
Ahead of Sunday’s verdict, Amnesty International also called on Egyptian officials to release the activists.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the human rights organization’s Middle East and North Africa program, said, “This show trial, based on highly questionable evidence, is the latest example of the Egyptian authorities’ determination to quash peaceful protest and stifle any form of dissent.”
Egypt has been the scene of anti-government protests with continuous clashes between security forces and supporters of former president, Mohamed Morsi, since his ouster in July 2013.
The military-backed authorities in November last year passed a law banning all but police-sanctioned protests. Since then, hundreds of anti-government protesters have been jailed for staging demonstrations.
Following Morsi’s ouster, a number of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters have been also sentenced to death ??