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Egypt: Pretrial detention will not be deducted from prison sentences

Anti-regime blogger Alaa Abdelfattah, lawyer and human rights defender Mohammed El-Baqer, and journalist Mohammed Ibrahim Radwan [@yasminoviech/Twitter]
Anti-regime blogger Alaa Abdelfattah, lawyer and human rights defender Mohammed El-Baqer, and journalist Mohammed Ibrahim Radwan [@yasminoviech/Twitter]

Prison sentences issued by an emergency court to Alaa Abdelfattah, Mohamed Baqer and Mohmed Oxygen in October last year do not include the two years they were held on pretrial detention before that.

Baqer's wife, Naema Hisham, found out that her husband's four-year prison sentence was ratified on 3 January 2022 up until January 2026, reports Mada Masr, even though he has been detained since September 2019.

Lawyers confirmed to Mada Masr that the five-year prison sentence given to Alaa and the four-year term given to Baqer and Oxygen by the emergency state security court (ESSC) for "spreading false news and undermining national security" will not have their pre-trial detention period deducted from their sentences.

Abdelfattah is a blogger and member of the "no to military trials for civilians," Oxygen is a blogger who reported on human rights issues in Egypt and Baqer is a human rights lawyer who was arrested whilst defending Abdelfattah.

The International Federation for Human Rights says their charges are related to social media posts they posted about human rights violations in Egypt.

READ: Cairo court adjourns trial of TikTok girl accused of 'human trafficking'

In July 2021 Oxygen attempted to commit suicide after being denied family visits throughout his two-year pretrial detention and Abdelfattah said he was suicidal after his pretrial detention was renewed in September last year.

Their lawyers were not told about the trial and so were not able to defend them and they were not allowed to see an official copy of the documents in their case files.

Authorities have justified the decision by saying that the first case they were tried from is different from the second, even though the false news charges in both cases are identical.

Emergency state courts have been in the spotlight in recent months as they were active under the emergency law which was not renewed last year for the first time since 2017.

Even though they will no longer be used the government announced that anyone who had already been referred to one before the end of emergency law would still be tried in one, in a move human rights groups have criticised.

READ: Fourth inmate dies in Egypt prisons in 2022, says lawyer

Alaa, Baqer and Oxygen were referred to an ESSC less than two weeks before the end of the state of emergency.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has identified 48 individuals on remand who were referred to emergency courts before the end of the state of emergency.

The rulings of such courts cannot be appealed, they can only be overturned with a pardon from the president.

In a high-profile case Egyptian researcher Patrick Zaki was tried in an emergency court after being charged with "spreading false news inside and outside the country" after he wrote an article detailing his life as a Coptic Christian.

Zaki was eventually released from prison in December last year but still faces charges of "spreading false news" and could be detained again.

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