Verdict on Egyptian pro-democracy activists postponed

Photo: Verdict on Egyptian pro-democracy activists postponed / Arabic region

The trial of three leading Egyptian pro-democracy activists accused of attacking security forces outside a courthouse was adjourned Sunday without a verdict, local media reported, dpa reported.

Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohammed Adel are also charged with organizing an unauthorized protest November 30 at the Abdeen Misdemeanours Court in Cairo.

The demonstration and clash took place when Maher was handing himself in for questioning on similar charges relating to a November 26 protest that he denied organizing.

The Abdeen Misdemeanours Court said it would issue its verdict December 22 and remanded Maher and Douma into custody, the state-run news site Ahram Online reported.

Adel is being tried in absentia.

The three were iconic figures in the 2011 uprising that forced longtime president Hosny Mubarak from power. Amnesty International has said that the charges "may arise solely from their opposition activism."

The November 26 protest was against a provision in the draft constitution that would allow civilians to be tried in military courts. It came two days after interim President Adly Mansour signed a law restricting public protests, drawing criticism at home and abroad.

The law requires protest organizers to give a three-day notice to police, who have the power to ban any demonstrations they deem as a threat to public peace.

Critics said it is aimed at stifling the opposition after the army deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July.

The military-backed government has vowed to enforce the law, saying it is necessary to stop violent protests and restore security.

Tensions over the law are raging as Egypt is bracing for a public vote on the draft constitution, which marks the first key step in a transition laid out by the army after Morsi's overthrow.

Meanwhile students at al-Azhar University in eastern Cairo clashed with security forces and local residents, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

The student body at the university, which is linked to Egypt's main centre of Islamic learning, is a stronghold of Islamist movements, including Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

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