Egypt court adds new charge to Copt solidarity protesters’ case

 Assault of a police officer will be added to the list of charges facing eight protesters who demonstrated earlier this month in solidarity with Christian Copts, a judicial source told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Thursday.

An Egyptian court on Thursday postponed the trial until 24 February, judicial sources said earlier.

On 3 January, police arrested the activists who protested in Cairo’s Coptic-dominated Shubra neighborhood in solidarity with Christians following the Alexandria church bombing on New Year’s Eve.   

The defendants were initially charged with rioting, disturbing the peace and vandalizing public property.

The source added that in the next session, the court will hear testimonies of police officers who submitted reports against the defendants. The court also requested the defense lawyers to prepare their response.

The source said the defense lawyers dismissed the charges as “contradictory and baseless,” and demanded further documents from the Rod al-Farag Police Station where the charges were made.

Defense Lawyer Ahmed Ragheb said that the dates on some of the police reports precede the protest where the violations purportedly took place.

“This is a weak case from a legal point of view and the chances of winning it are high,” Ragheb told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Meanwhile, a group of demonstrators rallied outside the court during Thursday’s session and raised banners demanding the acquittal of the activists.

“We hoped that the case will be closed today because it is meaningless and the charges are completely fabricated,” said Yasser al-Hawary, media coordinator of the Youths of Justice and Freedom movement to which most of the defendants belong.  “The case remains a knife to their throats.”

Earlier, investigators said that the accused shattered the glass of 21 police vehicles, four microbuses, and ten private cars.

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