Egypt’s highest court on Sunday overturned the conviction of a police officer sentenced to 15 years in prison for the killing of a female protester in a January 2015 shooting captured on video and photos.
Cassation Court Judge Taha Qassim also ruled that a new trial be held for the officer, Yassin Hatem Salah Eddin, who was convicted and sentenced in June last year for premeditated manslaughter. Salah Eddin was 25 at the time of the killing.
The ruling, reported by Egypt’s official MENA news agency, appeared to be in line with the acquittals or suspended sentences received by dozens of police officers who stood trial for the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The January 24, 2015 killing of Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, a 32-year-old activist and mother of a small boy, touched many Egyptians after images circulated of her with blood running down her face while leaning on another protester.
She and some 40 fellow members of a leftist party had gathered in downtown Cairo that day with the intention of laying wreaths at nearby Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising, in remembrance of protesters killed during the popular revolt.
Witnesses and members of her party later said that police ignored pleas to allow an ambulance through their lines to take el-Sabbagh away after being hit with a birdshot. They also prevented anyone from helping her, they said.
El-Sabbagh’s death came amid widespread allegations of police brutality by local and international rights groups, which say the force has revived Mubarak-era practices like arbitrary arrests, torture and disappearances.