The North Cairo Criminal Court on Thursday acquitted a police officer, Mohamed Abdel Moneim, charged with killing 20 protesters and injuring another 15 protesters. Moneim's defense lawyers argued that he was just attempting to protect himself and the police station. He had no intent to kill the protesters, and, due to the chaos of the situation, it was impossible to know truly who shot who. Moneim initially fled [Al Arabiya report] and was convicted and sentenced to death, but then turned himself in and was retried. The court also ordered the procedures of a second trial, in which Moneim was sentenced to life in prison for the alleged attempted murder of two other protesters, to be examined. Two other police officers that worked at the same station as Moneim were also acquitted.
Moneim had been the only Egyptian police officer convicted of killing protesters, despite the fact that at least 846 protesters were killed [AP report]. Last March three high ranking police officials were charged with murder and attempted murder [JURIST report] for their roles in a January 28 incident where police firing in Beni Suef resulted in 19 deaths and 300 injuries. Egypt was heavily criticized for the way it treated protesters during the Egyptian revolution. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] and Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released reports that protesters had been tortured and improperly detained [JURIST reports]. AI has also criticized the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder], stating that human rights violations against protesters committed by the SCAF may be equal to those committed under former president Hosni Mubarak [JURIST news archive].