Egypt overturns police officer's conviction for female activist's death

Egypt overturns police officer's conviction for female activist's death
Egypt’s highest appeals court has overturned the conviction of a police officer sentenced to 15 years for the killing of activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh in a shooting captured on video.
2 min read
15 February, 2016
Widespread outcry over the death of Sabbagh forced Egypt's authorities to react rapidly [Getty]
The jail sentence for the police officer accused of killing Egyptian activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh has been overturned by Egypt's highest appeals court, reports said on Sunday.

An appeal against the 15-year jail sentence for Yaseen Hatam over action "that led to the death" of the activist was accepted by the appeals court and the case is now set for retrial.

The sentence was one of the few instances of Egyptian police officers being convicted for the killing of protesters in the years following the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Sabbagh was killed by shots fired from police lines in January 2015 while marching with protesters in Cairo commemorating the 2011 revolution that led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

The capture of her final moments on film, including footage of the fatal shots by a police officer, led to widespread outrage at the killing both in Egypt and globally.

A poignant photo of the 33-year-old mother held by a colleague became widely shared and tweets with Sabbagh's name numbered more than 130,000 in the twelve hours following her death.

The popular outcry over the death of Sabbagh, who was a leading member in Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance Party, forced a rare reaction by Egypt's authorities at the time.

In the aftermath, the Egyptian ministry of interior "vowed" to bring her killers to justice.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi himself soon waded in referring to Sabbagh as "my daughter" and "the daughter of Egypt."

In June 2015 the police officer Yaseen Hatam was convicted for action that "lead to death" and sentenced to 15 years. 

In January activists held a silent vigil in Alexandria to mark the anniversary of her killing. 

Sunday's news of the reversal, of what was a rare instance of a police officer being held to account for the killing of protesters, expectedly led to fury on social media.

Tweets included statements that "they killed her twice, once with a bullet, and once with a lofty judgement."

Others said the reversal of the sentence stands as another example of a "criminal state" protecting it's own.

Some people believed that Sabbagh's blood had gone to waste in a land whose waste-collectors are the broadcasters and judiciary.