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Dec 9, 2014 11:59 AM

Key Egypt activist jailed for contempt of court

The Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) An Egyptian judge on Tuesday found a leading activist behind the 2011 uprising to be in contempt of court and sentenced him to three years imprisonment and a $1,400 fine.

Judge Mohammed Nagi Shehata issued the ruling after pro-democracy activist Ahmed Douma spoke at his trial. Douma had demanded that the court immediately find him guilty because he was convinced it had already decided to convict him.

Douma is on trial for his alleged role in clashes in central Cairo between security forces and protesters in December 2011, during which a fire gutted parts of a library housing rare manuscripts and books.

The activist, who was detained about a year ago, is already serving a three-year sentence for breaking a draconian law regulating street protests. Tuesday's ruling can be appealed.

Last month, Egypt's powerful lawyers union criticized Shehata for "disparaging" and "terrorizing" Douma's defense team after he referred five of the team's six lawyers to prosecutors for investigation.

Shehata accused them on various occasions of disrespecting him. The defense team has subsequently withdrawn from the case and the union backed their decision, instructing all members to boycott Shehata's court.

Shehata gained international notoriety for sentencing three Al-Jazeera English journalists to prison after he convicted them in June on charges linked to aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government has banned and declared a terrorist organization following last year's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

A Cairo court has set Jan. 1 for an appeals hearing for the three: Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed.


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