A prominent Egyptian blogger was held for 15 days in custody on Sunday before he goes on trial for allegedly inciting violence during deadly Oct. 9 clashes between Coptic Christian protesters and army forces.
Alaa Abdel el-Fattah was accused of attacking soldiers and stealing their weapons during a demonstration that deteriorated into clashes with security forces in which 28 people were killed, most of them Copts demonstrating against the burning of a church in southern Egypt.
Five hours prior to entering Egypt’s military court to face the charges, Alaa tweeted: “Going in.”
Gamal Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said the young man was remanded in custody after having refused to undergo questioning by the military prosecution on the grounds that the military itself was implicated in the case, according to AFP.
“There’s a campaign to go after activists,” charged Eid, who said that a second activist, Bahaa Taher, underwent questioning by the prosecution after Abdel el-Fattah’s case.
The blogger’s lawyer and father, Ahmed Saif al-Islam, told Al Arabiya that Abdel el-Fattah was held in custody for refusing to cooperate with military investigators.
“Today Alaa Abdul el-Fattah refused to speak because there is no guarantee for an independent military prosecution and a military justice, because the other party in this case is from the military,” Saif al-Islam said.
“We claim that there are officers from the armed forces who took part in aggression against peaceful demonstrators. From a legal spirit, the military prosecutor should have transferred the case to an independent judicial party that will investigate both the military prosecution’s claims and our claims against officers of the armed forces who run over protesters with armored vehicles.”
He said lawyers who were present with Alaa at the military court presented three videotapes; one showed armored vehicles running over Egyptian protesters, another demonstrated how the state TV urged Egyptian citizens to attack Coptic protesters, and third video showed security forces mobilizing individuals to attack protesters.
Saif al-Islam said he will appeal the decision to detain his son but that he has little faith in military justice.
“We will appeal the decision to detain Alaa and I expect that we will lose this appeal in the military court, which often supports claims by the military prosecution. Then we will wait for the hearing to extend to the detention of Alaa in 14 or 15 days.”
Local media reports had blamed the Oct. 9 violence on an “anti-revolution video-blogger,” known as Ahmed Spider.
Coptic protesters accused soldiers of firing at them during the Maspero protest. They also said that several were killed when army vehicles ran over them, charges the army denied.