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  • Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, during his trial in Cairo, September 8, 2018.

    Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, during his trial in Cairo, September 8, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 September 2018

On Saturday, an Egyptian court finally finished a years-long trial against survivors of the 2013 Rabaa massacre in Cairo.

An Egyptian court has ratified death sentences for 75 people related to the Muslim Brotherhood and sentenced award-winning photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, to five years in prison – time he has already served in pre-trial detention.

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Saturday's hearing was the last part of the trial related to the Rabaa massacre, in which about 900 people were murdered by security officers in two otherwise-peaceful demonstrations at Rabaa and Nahda Squares in Cairo on August 14, 2013.

It occurred weeks after the military ousted Egypt's first freely elected head of state, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi.

Most of those sentenced had been convicted of murder and inciting violence during the massacre, besides being members of a 'terrorist organization,' but they were simply survivors and prominent members of the brotherhood.

The government says many protesters were armed and that eight members of the security forces were killed. No security officers have ever been held accountable for the massacres.

The court sentenced to death by hanging several prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Essam Erian, Mohamed Beltagi, Issam Aryan and Safwat Hijazi, and sentenced Mohamed Badie and dozens of others to life imprisonment.

Cases were dropped against five people who died in prison, judicial sources said.

Shawkan, who was covering the Rabaa Square protest at the time of his detention, could now be set free in the next few days, according to his lawyer, because he has been in pre-trial detention since 2013.

He was accused of 'murder and membership of a terrorist organization,' which could have resulted in the death penalty, but international pressure pushed authorities to issue a lesser sentence.

Defense lawyer Karim Abdelrady says Shawkan's sentence is "unfair because he was only doing his job." Shawkan will remain under police observation for five years, required to present himself at a station every day at sunset for 12 hours, his brother told local media.

Several human rights organizations say that about 40,000 people were arrested during the first year after the coup that ousted President Morsi in 2013.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday met U.S. Central Command Chief General Joseph Votel as the two countries launched a joint military exercise off Egypt's Mediterranean coast.


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