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New Campaign Defends Witnesses From Sabbagh Murder Case

The eye witnesses in Shaimaa El-Sabbagh's murder case quickly became defendants, accused of illegal protesting. Now a new campaign has been launched, calling for them to be cleared of all charges.

Ever been at the wrong place at the wrong time? This can be said about anyone who was moving in or around Downtown Cairo on January 24, 2015, when a non-violent march in commemoration of the dozens of victims of the January 25 revolution turned very much violent, and activist Shaimaa El-Sabbagh lost her life after a fatal birdshot fired by a police officer.

Initially offering eye witness reports to authorities, many of these witnesses now find themselves in the hot seat, as instead of witnesses they recently became defendants, accused of illegal protesting along with many others. A campaign was launched this week to end the accusation of witnesses and peaceful activists as illegal protesters. “Do Not Prosecute Hope” an online group surfacing on Wednesday is now trying to raise awareness about this group of defendants, whose first trials are planned for Saturday.

The campaign, initiated to express support to the accused activists and witnesses-turned-defendants, is joined by many lawyers who have deemed the prosecution a farce. Thirteen of the defendants are members of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), a further four are witnesses that now find themselves on trial, including Azza Soliman, a lawyer that merely offered a testimony to authorities since she happened to be having lunch close to the scene and wanted to take pictures of the events. Now she’s facing jail…

Soliman took to Facebook in February to express that she does not regret offering her testimony despite ending up being charged herself. “No matter what the police, prosecution or judiciary do to scare us, I am still full of hope,” she posted on Facebook. The campaign launched on Wednesday is calling for her to be immediately cleared of all charges. How successful those pleas will be I'll start showing on Saturday.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press