One of the most controversial cases in post-revolution Egypt was resolved with the acquittal of a police officer charged with the killing of unarmed protestors at the start of the January 25 revolution.
Mohamed Abdel Moneim, previously sentenced to death in absentia for killing 20 protestors and injuring another 15 on January 28, 2011, also known as Friday of Anger, was found innocent in the retrial.
Abdel Moneim, who ran away while the North Cairo Criminal Court was holding his trial, turned himself in after the death sentence was announced and was then retried.
The acquittal, issued Wednesday also by the North Cairo Criminal Court, included another two officers who work in the same police station as the first defendant.
The court also ordered reviewing the procedures of another lawsuit filed against Abdel Moneim in which he is charged with the attempted murder of two protestors and the deformation of another during the protests. Abdel Moneim was handed a life sentence in the second case, also in absentia.
The trial took place under tight security and the court room was emptied of people. The defendant appeared wearing black sunglasses and a black cap and spent most of the time during trial talking on his cell phone, according to Egyptian press reports.
The acquittal came after Abdel Moneim’s defense team argued that he was not involved in pre-meditated murder and had no intention of killing protestors.
Abdel Moneim, the lawyers argued, was in a state of self-defense and was also protecting the police station which was allegedly under attack and well as “the entire community” as they put it.
The defendant’s lawyers cited eyewitnesses who said that during the protests, gunshots came from all directions and it was impossible to detect who the shooters were or who each of them shot.
The verdict is regarded by many as an unpromising precedent that makes Egyptians less hopeful that police officers who killed peaceful protestors will be duly penalized. Several similar cases have not been resolved yet amid complaints by revolutionaries and families of killed protestors.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)