Jailed Islamist women to go free, Egyptian court rules

ALEXANDRIA  (Reuters) – Fourteen Islamist women jailed for 11 years for demonstrating in Egypt will be released after a court slashed their sentences in a case that had outraged opposition groups and human rights campaigners, judicial sources said yesterday.

Seven girls aged under 18 had also been sent to juvenile prison in the same case last month for obstructing traffic and damaging property during a pro-Islamist protest in October.

An appeals court in Alexandria has now reduced the sentences of the 14 women to one-year suspended terms, while a juvenile court put the teenagers on probation for three months. Once the paperwork is completed, they will all be released.

Security forces have tried to crush the Muslim Brotherhood since the army ousted Egypt’s first freely elected leader, Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, on July 3. His supporters have staged frequent protests calling for his reinstatement.

The army-backed authorities accuse the Brotherhood of violence and terrorism, charges it denies. Hundreds of Mursi supporters have been killed and thousands arrested. Mursi and other Brotherhood leaders are on trial for inciting violence.

Gamal Eid, a human rights activist, said the sentences against the female protesters had been politically motivated.

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