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Egypt court overturns sentence of police officer in protester death

[JURIST] The highest appeals court in Egypt on Sunday overturned the 15-year prison sentence levied against a police officer for the killing of a female protester in January 2015. The officer, Yaseen Mohamed Hatem, will face a new trial for charges of battery leading to death [NYT report] for the fatal shooting of Shaimaa el-Sabbagh. Sabbagh was a participant in a march in Tahrir Square in remembrance of the individuals killed during the 2011 protests [JURIST backgrounder]. The graphic images and videos of Sabbagh's death raised international concern over human rights abuses in Egypt.

Earlier this month an Egyptian appeals court overturned [JURIST report] the death sentences of 149 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood accused of executing an attack on a police station near Cairo in 2013. Last year an Egyptian court sentenced the defendants to death in a series of mass trials that were used to denounce the ex-president Mohamed Morsi and his supporters, many of whom align with the pro-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Approximately 500 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death [IBT report] in early 2014. In total, it is estimated that more than 1,000 people have been killed and 40,000 have been jailed [BBC report] as a result of the crackdown on Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt. Last month Egyptian authorities clamped down on dissidents [JURIST report] in an effort to avoid further political unrest marking the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising. At the instruction of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi [BBC profile], Egyptian security forces searched over 5,000 homes, seized activists in public, closed an art gallery, raided a publishing house and arrested a medical doctor in a nighttime raid, all as "precautionary measures."

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