Coptic lawyer sues govt at regional court over Maspero violence

A Geneva-based Coptic lawyer has filed a lawsuit in the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights against the Egyptian government over the violence at Maspero on 9 October, independent newspaper Al-Shorouk said Monday.

Twenty-seven protesters and an army officer were killed, while more than 300 were injured in the violence outside Egypt's state-run TV building, Maspero, in downtown Cairo. It followed a Coptic march that decried increasing assaults on churches.

Video clips show armored vehicles running over protesters and driving haphazardly, but the armed forces said people were run over and killed by mistake because vehicles were set on fire.

Coptic activists have been divided on whether to resort to international arbitration or be content with investigations made by military prosecutors over the incidents.

The Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, slammed the decision to allow military prosecution to handle the investigation, citing conflict of interest as the armed forces is involved in the case and being blamed for the killings.

The plaintiff is Shafik Awad, who heads the Confederation of Coptic Human Rights Organizations in Europe, Al-Shorouk's website said.

It said the petition cites African Union (AU) regulations, signed by Egypt, that empower the court to handle suspected human rights violations occurring at any member state as soon as local litigation procedures are finished.

Coptic sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the lawsuit targets the Egyptian government and its justice minister, adding that Awad is challenging the jurisdiction of military prosecutors.

The sources said that the court has accepted the case and is currently considering it.

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