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Egypt acquits 112 on appeal over protest law

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An appeals court in Egypt Sunday acquitted 112 people convicted of holding an illegal protest on the third anniversary of the 2011 revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, judicial sources said. The defendants, including supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, were among 1,079 people arrested nationwide on January 25 as security forces cracked down on illegal demonstrations. Clashes between protesters and police that day resulted in the deaths of 49 people.

A lower court originally sentenced the 112 to a year in jail after finding them guilty of violating the protest law, illegal assembly, rioting, inciting violence, blocking roads, assaulting police officers and vandalising public and private property. Thousands of Morsi backers have been jailed in a crackdown since his July 2013 ouster after just one year in office, and dozens of secular activists have also been given lengthy prison terms for breaking the controversial protest law.

Adopted last November, the law prohibits all but police-sanctioned protests as part of a government attempt to restrict demonstrations. In the past few weeks the authorities have released secular activists including Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mahienour el-Massry, and also many students who were detained last year over “violent protests”.

Abdel Fattah and Massry were among those who campaigned against Mubarak during the 2011 revolt. On Saturday, a Cairo court postponed its verdict in Mubarak’s murder retrial to November. He is accused alongside seven of his former police commanders of involvement in the killing of hundreds of demonstrators during the 2011 uprising.

In a separate case on Sunday, 12 students were jailed for four years and each fined 100,000 Egyptian pounds (about $13,960, 11,000 euros) for taking part in an illegal protest. SAPA

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