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Egypt to Try Policeman for Shaimaa Sabbagh's Death on Tahrir Anniversary

Shaimaa Sabbagh's death in January caused an international outcry when footage of it spread online.
Image: SPAP activist Sabbagh receives help after she was shot during a protest by the party in Cairo
A man comes to the aid of Socialist Popular Alliance Party activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh after she was shot during a protest in Cairo on Jan. 24, 2015. Her death caused an international outcry when footage of it spread online. AL YOUM AL SAABI / Reuters file

CAIRO — An Egyptian police officer was charged on Tuesday over the shooting of a young mother at a protest in central Cairo after a photograph of her bleeding to death that went viral 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 and one her supporters said was too lenient. Lawyers said that depending on which article of the penal code is applied to the unidentified officer, the sentence could range from three to 10 years.

Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network For Human Rights Information, said the charge showed "there was no political will to apply the law."

Fellow activist and lawyer Sayed Abu el-Ila, whose photograph with Sabbagh dying in her arms provoked outrage on social media, told Reuters: "As a friend, a party colleague and a witness to the moment she was murdered I say that Shaimaa was killed again today with the prosecution's decision."


— Reuters