Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has pardoned 502 prisoners before the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, state media reported today.
No list of names was immediately available, but the prisoners to be released include 25 women and “a large number of youth jailed in cases involving protesting and gathering,” state news agency MENA reported, without specifying how many.
Security sources revealed prominent businessman Hisham Talaat Moustafa is amongst those to be freed. Tamim had been elected in 2004 to the Shura Council in the Parliament of Egypt. He was found guilty on May 21, 2009 for his involvement in the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim, but his sentence to death by hanging was overturned on a legal technicality. Following a retrial in 2010, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. He was pardoned on health concerns, the security sources said.
Al-Sisi ordered the interior ministry to implement the decision before the start of the Eid holiday, which immediately follows the holy month of Ramadan that ends tomorrow.
Since ousting the first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup in July 2013, Al-Sisi has presided over a crackdown on opponents that has seen thousands killed and many more jailed. Activists and liberal opponents have also been imprisoned.
A law requiring permission from the interior ministry for any public gathering of more than 10 people is strictly enforced and has largely succeeded in ending the kind of mass demonstrations that helped unseat two presidents in three years.