Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Who will be pardoned?

Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud has issued lists of pardoned political prisoners, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

On 5 November, Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud issued a list of political prisoners who are to be freed upon the instructions of President Mohamed Morsi.
The list was based on presidential decree 89/2012 granting amnesty to some detainees involved in the protests that took place in front of the Cabinet headquarters last year, as well as in Mohamed Mahmoud Street and in Abbasiya Square.
Morsi’s decree, issued on 8 October this year, will be applied to protesters detained from January to June 2011. It was issued two days after Morsi promised to release prisoners detained during the 25 January Revolution at the 6 October speech delivered at Cairo Stadium.
The promise was preceded by another made by Morsi in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after his victory in the presidential elections. On this occasion, Morsi promised to fight for the release of civilians detained in military prisons, and a few weeks later he formed a presidential fact-finding committee to investigate the cases of the detainees.
Since then, hundreds of detainees convicted in both military and civilian courts have been released in successive waves of pardons. Civil and military prosecutors are obliged to issue lists of those pardoned within a month of their publication in the official gazette Al-Waqae Al-Rasmeya.
Those pardoned have not included the 269 protesters convicted of participating in the burning of the Institute of Egypt in Cairo and the Tax Authority building, as well as of those accused of committing robberies and vandalism, or of possessing drugs or destroying state property during last year’s revolution.
According to Adel Said, official spokesman of the prosecutor-general, the decree does not differentiate between civilian and military detainees. “Ministry of the Interior officials released all those pardoned just three days after the publication of the lists,” Said said.
However, despite the pardons some political commentators have not been happy with Morsi’s performance in this regard. According to Abdel-Khalek Farouk, head of the Nile Centre for Economic and Strategic Studies, the presidential decree came after 18 months of strife with human rights groups demanding the release of all political detainees.
“We are still demanding the release of all civilians convicted in military trials since January 2011 without any exceptions,” Farouk said.
Many political activists also questioned the ways in which the prosecutor-general would differentiate between those detained for “supporting the revolution” and those convicted of criminal offences.
The names of some of the people convicted as a result of their support for the revolution had not been included in the lists, the activists said. “The presidential decree is just words,” said Malek Adli, an activist at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights.
“Many revolutionaries have not been included in the pardons,” Adli said.
“We rejected Morsi’s amnesty immediately after its release,” wrote Adli on Facebook. “We will not accept anything other than the revolutionaries’ acquittals and the conviction of those who killed and injured protesters during the 25 January Revolution.”
Adli, who refused to go into details, said he believed there were loopholes in the decree that allowed the government to detain certain activists on the grounds that they were being imprisoned for crimes not related to the revolution.
In response to such criticisms, Said said that the prosecutor-general had mandated his office to examine all requests from those whose names had not been included on the lists.
Appeals would be reviewed by a committee headed by the head of the Court of Cassation and including judges from the Cairo Appeals Court and the Supreme Court of Military Appeals.
“Mahmoud and his team will study the appeals in order to decide whether those making them should also be pardoned,” Said said. “Overall, the number of released political detainees since Morsi came to power has exceeded 2,000.”

add comment

  • follow us on