Egypt sentences 230 activists to life in prison

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 230 activists to life in prison for taking part in clashes with security forces during the 2011 revolt that forced longtime autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak to step down, in the heaviest sentence yet against non-Islamist protesters, The Times of India reports.

Among the 230 activists was leading campaigner Ahmed Douma, who is already serving a three-year-sentence for breaking a draconian law regulating protests.

Douma rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising and was also a key protest leader against Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi, who is currently in prison over charges of killing peaceful protesters, espionage and escaping from prison.

A life-in-prison verdict carries a sentence of 25 years in jail according to the Egyptian penal code.

Wednesday’s ruling found the activists guilty of taking part in clashes with security forces and inciting violence near Cairo’s Tahrir Square in December 2011.

Some 39 other defendants, who are minors, were hit with 10 years in prison in the same case, Alahram reported.

It is the heaviest sentence yet against non-Islamist activists who spearheaded the mass protests. The ruling can be appealed.

In 2011, clashes erupted near Tahrir Square, the focal point of the revolt, when a sit-in was forcibly dispersed by security personnel, sparking clashes between protesters and army and police forces.

During the protests, a fire gutted parts of a library housing rare books and manuscripts in the Egyptian capital.

Egypt’s courts have been flooded with trials of thousands of protesters and government opponents following three years of turmoil.

Since the ouster of Morsi in 2013, the Egyptian government has been also cracking down on the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters.

The government has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

Earlier this week, 183 Morsi supporters were sentenced to death by a court over killing of 15 police officials in an attack in 2013.