Egypt activist gets three years in jail for contempt of court

Ahmed Douma rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak and was also a key protest leader against Mursi

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An Egyptian court jailed a prominent activist Tuesday for three years for contempt after the man claimed his ongoing trial for participating in violent clashes was political.

Ahmed Douma rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran leader Hosni Mubarak, and was also a key protest leader against Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Mursi.

He is already serving three years for violating a law prohibiting protests without a permit.

"I want the judges to recuse themselves from the case because they have transformed it from a criminal one to a political one," Douma told the court Tuesday, his lawyer Sameh Samir told AFP.

The court sentenced Douma, 29, in a verdict broadcast on state television.

Samir said Douma's defense team had stopped representing him after the presiding judge, Mohamed Nagi Shehata, called for the prosecution to investigate five of them.

"Five members of the defense team were referred to the prosecution for insulting the judiciary in some previous sessions," Samir said.

As a result of Judge Shehata's call, Samir said he attended Tuesday's session only as an observer.

The judge has presided over several trials following a government crackdown targeting Mursi supporters since the army ousted the Islamist last year.

On December 2, he condemned 188 people to death for a deadly attack on police in a village near Cairo on August 14, 2013 -- the day security forces dispersed sit-ins by Mursi supporters, leaving hundreds dead.

On Tuesday, Douma was among 269 defendants accused of taking part in clashes with security forces near Cairo's Tahrir Square -- the epicenter of anti-Mubarak protests -- in December 2011.

He is serving his current sentence alongside activists Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel for violating a controversial law restricting protests.

Their sentencing and that of several other left-leaning youth leaders have raised concerns of a return to Mubarak-era repression under the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

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