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Egypt appeals court overturns sentence for 'police torture' film reporter

[JURIST] An Egyptian appeals court Monday overturned the jail sentence [JURIST report] of an Al Jazeera [media website] television reporter convicted for her role in producing a film on police torture. Howayda Taha [AELME profile] was tried in May 2007; she was sentenced in absentia to six months in prison and fined 20,000 Egyptian pounds for her work on a film that Egyptian authorities say includes phony shots of Egyptian police torturing suspects. The appeals court upheld the fine Monday. Al Jazeera responded that the footage in question was a reenactment of actual scenes of torture by actors. Human rights groups maintain that torture is commonplace in police stations in Egypt [JURIST news archive], but Egyptian authorities have denied the allegations.

Taha was first detained by Egyptian authorities [RSF report] in January 2007 as she was leaving the country at the completion of filming. She was charged with "harming Egypt's national interest" after prosecutors discovered the videotapes in her baggage, but was released on bail. Taha was not present at the Egyptian court hearing Monday. AFP has more.

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