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article imageEgypt court bails top 2011 revolt activist Abdel Fattah

By AFP     Sep 15, 2014 in World

An Egyptian court Monday ordered the release on bail of Alaa Abdel Fattah, a top activist of the revolt against ex-president Hosni Mubarak, at his retrial in a case where he had been sentenced to 15 years.

Abdel Fattah, one of the most prominent faces of the 2011 uprising, is being retried after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of assaulting a policeman at an illegal protest.

His detention, and that of several other activists, has raised fears among rights groups that Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi could be returning to autocratic rule worse than that of the Mubarak regime.

"The court ordered the release on bail of Alaa Abdel Fattah and two other detainees," the defence lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz said.

They were to be released upon paying 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($700, 540 euros) each.

"The court also recused itself because of the defendants' lack of respect for it," possibly because they "had previously accused the presiding judge of supervising electoral fraud in 2005," he said.

The court has also "demanded an investigation into the prosecutor's use of personal videos belonging to Abdel Fattah which violated the accused's privacy," Abdel Aziz said.

At a previous hearing of the retrial, the prosecutor showed personal videos of the activist which had no connection to the case, the lawyer said.

Abdel Fattah and 24 others were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail on June 11 in an earlier trial presided over by the same judges who delivered Monday's verdict.

On June 11, Abdel Fattah and two co-defendants were denied entry when the verdict was announced and arrested immediately afterwards.

At the start of the retrial, Abdel Fattah had demanded new judges saying he had "no confidence" in the existing ones after the June 11 incident.

Abdel Fattah, 32, was arrested in November in a crackdown waged by the then military-installed authorities against Islamist and secular dissent since the army ousted Morsi last July.

He was arrested by the Mubarak regime and the military junta that followed his overthrow. His younger sister, Sanaa Seif, is also in detention, charged with taking part in an illegal demonstration.

The crackdown on Morsi's supporters has left at least 1,400 people dead and hundreds of his backers have been sentenced to death after speedy trials. More than 15,000 others have been jailed.

The crackdown was initially restricted to pro-Morsi Islamists but was later expanded to target some youth movements which spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt.

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