- Title: EGYPT-ACTIVIST/REACTION Egyptian policeman charged over shooting of protester
- Date: 17th March 2015
- Summary: SABBAGH'S PORTRAIT
- Reuters ID: LVA491DPRZWKH5Y7I3X1R1BQNHUR
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Duration: 00:00:04
- Topics: General
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- Story Text: An Egyptian police officer was charged on Tuesday (March 17) over the shooting of a young mother at a protest in central Cairo after a photograph of her bleeding to death that went viral and caused an international outcry.
Shaimaa Sabbagh, 32, was shot at a march marking the anniversary of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The public prosecutor said in a statement she was killed by an officer who fired birdshot to try to disperse the protest.
The prosecutor sent the case for trial in a criminal court, a rare action against a member of the security forces, on a charge of action that "led to the death of" Sabbagh, a lesser charge than murder.
The officer remained unidentified.
Fellow activist, and senior member of the Popular Socialist Coalition Party, Mohamed Saleh said the identity of the offiicer was known right from the start, but authorities attempted to shift the blame.
"Finally, after a long time, and unnecessary delay, despite knowing the perpetrator since the first minute, and despite the arbitrary attempts to blame others for the crime, including the party's deputy chief Dr Zohdy al-Shamy, but in the end, it's important for that decision to come out to determine the real perpetrator," he said.
Saleh also accused the Egyptian media of taking sides.
"And we were playing a role inside and outside of Egypt and everywhere, to bring forward the truth, minute by minute, and to respond to all the unfair claims that employed even the Egyptian media, in fact, or some of it, against the party and the martyred colleague."
Saleh said the charge marked a big step in action against security forces.
"This is the first time that the police has been caught red-handed in a crime that's very clear. And all that's happened from, and we've been demanding it."
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, accused by critics of muzzling opponents, responded to the fury over Sabbagh's killing by referring to her as "my daughter" and "the daughter of Egypt", and promised to bring her killers to justice.
The interior minister at the time of Sabbagh's death was sacked this month for unspecified reasons.
Many hoped Mubarak's fall would lead to greater freedom, but the government has cracked down hard on Islamists and secular activists since the army ousted Egypt's first freely-elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013.
Critics say the police, whose power waned as Mubarak fell, have made a comeback and now act with impunity, a charge the Interior Ministry denies.
Nearly all the 100 policemen tried for killing protesters in the 2011 revolt were acquitted.
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- Embargoed:1st April 2015 13:00