Activist Asmaa Mahfouz wins appeal in assault case

The Ain Shams Appeals Court cleared on Tuesday activist Asmaa Mahfouz of allegations she attacked a civil servant.

Mahfouz was sentenced in absentia in March to one year in prison and fined LE2,000 for physically assaulting one of the witnesses in the case regarding violence that broke out in Maspero last year at a mostly Coptic demonstration. The army's intervention in the peaceful October protest left 27 dead.

Mahfouz, one of the April 6 Youth Movement founders, appealed the earlier sentence, saying she did not know her accuser, Abdel Aziz Fahmy, and that the allegation was vengeful.

Fahmy, the director general of Gharbiya Governorate's Youth and Sports Department who filed the initial complaint, asked the court for justice, saying he stands alone facing 12 lawyers as well as political activists who support Mahfouz.

European Union representatives attended the appeal trial.

Mahfouz's lawyers argued the allegation was fabricated and that prosecutors had made contradictory statements. According to the lawyers, the accuser once said Mahfouz had beaten Fahmy at the High Court while he was filing reports against activists Nawara Negm and Alaa Abd El Fattah. Later he said that she tried to press him to deny his statement against her at a military prosecution office for insulting the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The Egypt-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned the initial conviction as a "throwback to politicized sentences against opposition activists."

Mahfouz shot to fame when she posted a video on YouTube urging Egyptians to protest against President Hosni Mubarak before he was toppled in February 2011 in a popular uprising. Since then Mahfouz, whom the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought, has targeted the military rulers who took charge after Mubarak's ouster.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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