McClatchy reports: It was a seemingly lenient sentence for charges of burning a political party headquarters a year ago – one year in jail, suspended for the next three years – but upon hearing the verdict Sunday, supporters of the defendants were long faced and despondent. They said they interpreted the three-year suspension as an effort to prevent the activists from protesting against the government in the near future.
“If they did what they claim, why a suspended sentence?” asked Leila Soueif, the mother of two of the defendants. “Yes, it is suspended but this is a baseless case. There is no justice in our system anymore.”
The primary defendants in Sunday’s case, Alaa Abd el-Fattah and his sister Mona, had been leading figures in the 2011 protest movement that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. At one point, the government had even dropped the charges against them. But after the military retook control of the country on July 3, they were reinstated, in what activists here say has been a concerted effort to make sure political dissent is all but eliminated. [Continue reading…]