Egyptian police officer's conviction overturned in death of protester

Photos of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh being carried by a fellow activist went viral on social media after her death.

Story highlights

  • Egyptian activist Shaimaa el-Sabbagh was killed during protests in January 2015
  • An appeals court has overturned Yassin Mohamed Hatem's conviction for her death

(CNN)An Egyptian policeman convicted of killing a female activist during protests last year has had his conviction overturned.

A high court has thrown out the officer's 15-year prison sentence and ordered a retrial, his lawyer told CNN.
    The policeman, Yassin Mohamed Hatem, was convicted of killing activist Shaimaa El-Sabbagh in Cairo's Tahrir Square in January 2015.
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    Sabbagh was participating in a protest marking the anniversary of the uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
    Hatem is set to be released Monday pending the beginning of his next trial, said his lawyer, Farid El-Deeb.
    Egyptian state media agency Al-Ahram reported Sunday that Deeb had argued in court that the timing of the anniversary meant the protest had occurred under "exceptional circumstances" and demonstrators had created a state of confusion for security forces.
    The lawyer said Sabbagh's death was the result of the "indiscretion" and "inexperience" of a young police officer who had no intention to kill, Al-Ahram said.
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    Sabbagh's final moments were caught on camera -- photos of her being held and carried by a fellow activist went viral on social media.
    She was one of more than a dozen protesters who were killed after police cracked down on demonstrators marking the anniversary of Egypt's revolution.