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Egyptian court overturns sentences of 14 women jailed for pro-Morsy protest

Female members of the Muslim Brotherhood stand in the defendants' cage during their trial in Alexandria on December 7, 2013.

Story highlights

  • An appeals court revisits the 11-year sentences given 14 women involved in a protest
  • They will be released and given 1-year suspended sentences, state news reports
  • The women's original sentences sparked widespread condemnation around Egypt
  • They were arrested at a demonstration for ousted President Mohamed Morsy

A group of 14 women jailed for protests in support of Egypt's ousted president will soon be free, after an Alexandria court revised their 11-year sentences, state news reported.

The women had been sentenced Wednesday -- along with seven minors facing juvenile detention -- on charges of gathering, thuggery and weapons possession at a demonstration in support of former President Mohamed Morsy.

The sentence sparked wide criticism of the Interior Ministry and the judiciary's handling of cases involving those detained for publicly backing Morsy, who has been in custody since being pushed out in July.

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It also set the stage for Saturday's appeals hearing in Alexandria. That ended with the court's decision to release the 14 women, giving them instead suspended one-year sentences, according to Egypt's state-run Al Ahram newspaper.

The appeals court also acquitted the detained girls, who ranged in age from 15 to 17.

Egypt has been mired in political and social turmoil since massive, peaceful protests in 2011 -- amid the broader Arab Spring movement that targeted many entrenched leaders in the Middle East -- led to the exit of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Morsy took power as Egypt's first popularly elected president in June 2012. But his time was marked by continued unrest, much of it targeting him and the Muslim Brotherhood, the once-banned Islamist organization that he once led.

Conditions in the North African country have not improved significantly since the military forced off Morsy and assumed control. Authorities have taken various steps to quell the social unrest, including legislation passed last month barring unauthorized protests.

These efforts have most noticeably targeted Morsy supporters, though authorities have increasingly cracked down on non-Islamist activists who oppose the military-led regime and Morsy.

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