Egypt’s president pardons 560, including prominent columnist

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi pardoned 560 prisoners, including a prominent journalist and several women. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 May 2019

Egypt’s president pardons 560, including prominent columnist

  • Among those pardoned are eight women who had been sentenced in 2018 to several years in prison on grounds of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization
  • The pardons coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when authorities traditionally release detainees as a goodwill gesture

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has pardoned 560 prisoners, the majority of whom were accused of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, two judicial sources said on Friday. The prisoners included a prominent journalist and several women, who organized demonstrations outside metro stations last year after fare hikes.
At least 482 were imprisoned on charges related to the Brotherhood, the sources said.
The pardons, announced in the official gazette late Thursday, coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when authorities traditionally release detainees as a goodwill gesture.
A prominent journalist, Abdel Halim Qandil, was sentenced to three years in absentia in December 2017 for “insulting the judiciary.” He surrendered in October 2018 as Egypt’s highest appeals court upheld his verdict. He was pardoned for health reasons.
Qandil was tried in a case that included 17 other defendants, among them ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Mursi, on the same charges.
Among those pardoned are eight women who had been sentenced in 2018 to several years in prison on grounds of belonging to Muslim Brotherhood and staging an anti-government protest in the Delta province of Damietta.
The pardons were announced in the official gazette late on Thursday.
El-Sisi does not have the authority to interfere in Egypt’s judicial processes but can issue pardons.
El-Sisi has issued pardons several times a year, including on major national holidays, often releasing students and young protesters.
Exactly a year ago, the Egyptian president had pardoned more than 330 people, many of them youths jailed for demonstrating in recent years. El-Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo broadcasted on state television, he had asked that the Interior Ministry ensure the pardoned youth prisoners be released within the coming hours.
“We signed off on more than 330 (pardoned), and I ask of the interior minister that these youth spend tonight in their home,” El-Sisi said.
Wednesday’s pardon will secure the release of 332 people, including two members of Egypt’s Destour Party and a number of prisoners with health problems, state-run news website Al-Ahram Gate reported.


Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

Updated 15 September 2019

Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

ALGIERS: Algeria — whose president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following mass protests — is to hold a presidential election on December 12, his interim successor announced Sunday.

"I have decided... that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12," said Abdelkader Bensalah, who is precluded from standing himself, in a televised address.

The announcement comes after army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, seen as the strongman in Algeria since the fall of Bouteflika, insisted that polls be held by the end of this year, despite ongoing protests demanding the creation of new institutions ahead of any elections.