Before handing down the verdict on Shawkan in the dispersal of Rabaa sit-in after tomorrow… ANHRI demands dropping the vague charges against him

Cairo: 28 June 2018

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today “The verdict hearing in the case known in the media as a ‘The dispersal of Rabaa sit-in’ in which ANHRI’s client, Mahmoud Abdel Shakour AKA Shawkan, along with other defendants, will be held on Saturday, June 30, at the Police Cadets Institute, following a trial and pre-trial detention that lasted for about five years, during which Shawkan remained in custody pending the investigations and trial”

ANHRI expresses its deep concern that the defendants will be judged collectively without taking into consideration the different positions of each one of them. The prosecution relied on evidence that included investigations and statements of witnesses directed against all the defendants collectively in referring the case to the Criminal Court, and it was the same during the trial hearings.

Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 while shooting a video of the dispersal Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in on behalf of Demotix News Agency. He was accompanied by two French and American journalists. They were released, while Shawkan’s cameras and equipment were seized, he was detained and brought before the prosecution in absence of his lawyers on charges of participating in a criminal gang, demonstration, cutting the road, murder, attempted murder and other charges, and then brought to trial on the same charges, and the prosecution called for the death penalty by hanging on all defendants, including Shawkan.

Both the trial and investigations did not present any evidence against Shawkan, who is being tried in an exceptional location, the Police Cadets Institute in Tora, inside a glass cage. During the investigation and the trial none of the videos from YouTube and social media were exhibited and the investigations failed to determine Shawkan’s role in the charges he is accused of committing, as for the statements of witnesses, none of them testified having seen Shawkan commit any of the crimes attributed to him.

On the other hand, lots of evidence was presented to show that Shawkan had not committed any offense and was punished for carrying out his job. Shawkan’s defense provided a certificate from Dimotex stating that he was in charge of covering the dispersal operation, in addition to certified testimonies by the French and American journalists stating that he got arrested along with them while they were all working, and while they were released he was brought to trial.

ANHRI said “The lack of evidence against Shawkan, who was arrested while doing his job, confirms that Shawkan was actually being punished for doing his journalistic work, and for no other reason, the fact that he spent five years behind bars in custody – in violation of the law – which put a maximum of two years – is in itself a violation and a crime for which he is entitled to a compensation, rather than calling for his death. ”

ANHRI calls for implementing the law and dropping all charges against him, for him and for all those who are not found guilty in that trial.