Egypt: 152 protesters jailed in mass trials

Egyptian courts have in a single day convicted 152 protesters for breaking a law that effectively bans demonstrations, sentencing them to up to five years in prison in a series of short mass trials.
The cases against the 152 convicted on Saturday are rooted in events on April 25, when police stifled planned demonstrations called to protest the government’s surrender to Saudi Arabia of two Red Sea islands under a deal negotiated in near total secrecy.
Police arrested more than 1 200 people during the run-up to April 25 and on the day, but released most of them without charge. However, nearly 300 were referred to trial for breaking the 2013 protest law decried by rights groups at home and abroad.
On Saturday, a Cairo court convicted and sentenced 51 people to prison for two years for their part in the protests.
Later that day, a judge presiding over two other trials of protesters convicted 101 defendants of breaking the same law and sentenced them to five years in prison, according to officials and defence lawyers.
They said 79 of them were fined $10 000 each and 72 of the 152 were tried in absentia.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
The verdict on the case of 51 protesters was announced after just two hearings, defence lawyer Sarah Rabee of the Al-Haqaniya rights group said.

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