Egypt court hands suspended sentences to 12 activists

Of the 12 were Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mona Seif, prominent youth activists who led in revolts against ousted President Mubarak

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An Egyptian court on Sunday gave suspended one-year sentences to 12 activists including youth leaders of the 2011 uprising for an attack on a former presidential candidate's headquarters.

Those sentenced include Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mona Seif, prominent youth activists known for their leading role in the revolt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

They were convicted of torching and destroying the election campaign headquarters of Ahmed Shafiq in May 2012, but acquitted of looting the premises.

They had been referred to trial under now deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, who defeated Shafiq in the May and June 2012 election.

Shafiq had withdrawn the complaint against them at the time, saying he did not want to be used by Mursi as a pretext to crack down on secular dissidents.

The jail sentences can be enforced within three years if the defendants are convicted in any other trials.

Abdel Fattah is currently in detention for allegedly taking part in a violent and illegal protest in November. The date for his trial has yet to be determined.

In late November, the military-installed government passed a law that bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations.

In December, a court sentenced three prominent activists who spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt to three years in jail for organizing an unlicensed protest.

Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel were convicted in the first such verdict against non-Islamist protesters since Mursi's ouster by the military in July.

Some secular activists who had supported Mursi's overthrow now accuse the military-installed government of restricting freedoms.

And in December, Shafiq, who served as Mubarak's last premier, was acquitted of corruption charges by Egyptian courts, paving the way for his return more than a year after he fled abroad after losing narrowly losing to Mursi.

Shafiq has since founded a political party, and now that he is free to return, intends to build on it ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-2014, a spokesman told AFP last month.

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