Egyptian Court Acquits a Police Officer Accused of Killing January 25 Protesters

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2011 file photo, Egyptian anti-government activists clash with riot police in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

At the time when the Egyptian courts sentenced thousands of opponents, journalists and activists to prison and life imprisonment, an Egyptian court released a high-ranking police officer who was accused of killing protesters on January Revolution.

Cairo Criminal Court acquitted on Wednesday the former head of Qalubiya Security directorate Farouk Lashin along with three of his assistants and three police officers in the National Security of killing protesters during the 25 January Revolution, according to Daily News Egypt.

The court said in justification of the officers’ acquittal that they were protecting the state’s vital facilities.

The court further explained that other deaths occurred when some prisoners attempted to flee prisons.

It also stated that the victims were shot dead by bullets and weapons that are not used by the Ministry of Interior or the Egyptian Armed forces; and that these weapons and internationally prohibited.

In February 2014, the police officer and his two aides were acquitted of murder charges but the general prosecution appealed the ruling  upon the request of the victims’ families , forcing a retrial, reported Al-Ahram, a state-owned newspaper.

Lashin and his aides are the latest in a series of released police officers in cases involving the killing of protesters during the early days of the January Revolution that toppled Egypt’s autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Last month, the court of cassation upheld a retrial decision to acquit the low-ranking police officer Mohamed Ibrahim “Al-Sunni” of killing protesters outside Al-Zawiya Al-Hamra police station on January 28, 2011 .

“Al-Sunni” was the first member of the police force to be officially convicted of killing protesters.

During his retrial, defense lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense against protesters attempting to storm police stations.

Over the past five years, a series of trials against police personnel on charges of killing protesters began in Egyptian courts, but all ended with acquittals.

The former President Hosni Mubarak, former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six of his security aides were also charged with killing the protesters.

In June 2012, Mubarak and Adly were sentenced to life, while the six aides were acquitted before the sentences were appealed again and all of them were then acquitted.

During the 18-day mass uprising against Hosni Mubarak, around 850 protesters were estimated to have been killed and over 3,000 injured.