Monday, December 15, 2008

22 convictions in Egypt food riots

When food prices spiked this summer, riots occurred throughout the world in protest. In Egypt, people are now being convicted on charges from crimes that occurred during the riots.

From this Associated Press story that we found in the International Herald Tribune, the sentencing itself caused some additional protests.

An Egyptian emergency court convicted 22 people for participating in deadly food riots in April, handing out sentences ranging from three to five years, the presiding judge said.

The remaining 27 defendants in the high profile case held in the northern provincial capital of Tanta 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Cairo, were acquitted, Judge Alsayyed Abdel-Maaboud told The Associated Press.

Defendants screamed at the judge calling him unjust when the verdicts were read out, with some fainting, according to witnesses inside the court.

Thousands of residents of the gritty industrial town of Mahalla al-Kobra rioted in April for two days over the hardships caused by high food prices, destroying posters of the president and clashing with security troops.

The demonstrations were quashed by tear gas and shotgun-wielding security forces who killed three people and arrested dozens of others.

The 22 defendants were convicted on charges of looting, assaulting police officers and the possession of dangerous materials, including firearms.

Before the sentencing the judge read a lengthy statement that blamed international pressures for the food prices, and that the blame was not with the Egyptian government. Echoing the statement that President Hosni Mubarak made this summer.

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