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Newsreel
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 28 - 03 - 2019


Activist released on parole
AFTER spending five years in Tora prison for taking part in an unlicensed protest, blogger and human rights activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, 37, was released on Friday. The news broke on Twitter when his sister Mona Seif tweeted, “Alaa is out”. As part of his parole conditions Abdel-Fattah will have to spend every night for the next five years at his local police station.
Abdel-Fattah was arrested with 21 others when clashes between police and protesters erupted outside parliament in November 2013. The demonstrations were to protest against articles allowing the military trial of civilians being included in the new constitution which was being drafted. Charged with organising an illegal protest and assaulting a police officer, in 2014 Abdel-Fattah was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2017 an appeal court reduced the sentence to five years.
Abdel-Fattah comes from a family of well-known human rights advocates. His father, the lawyer Ahmed Seif Al-Islam, was jailed several times under president Hosni Mubarak. His mother Laila Sweif is a human rights activist, as are his sisters Mona and Sanaa.
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Multiple jail sentences
AN ALEXANDRIA Criminal Court on Saturday sentenced 30 defendants to jail terms ranging between 10 years and life for planning a suicide bomb attack on a church in Alexandria, a bomb attack on a liquor store in Damietta, and for possession of weapons and explosives. The attack on the church was aborted.
Ten out of the 30 were sentenced in absentia. At the time of their arrest the prosecution alleged the defendants had embraced the ideas of the Islamic State (IS) and some had received training abroad.
IS claimed responsibility for suicide bombings on churches in Alexandria and Tanta in April 2017 that left 45 dead.
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Plastics banned
IN A MOVE to protect marine life Red Sea Governor General Ahmed Abdella has announced a ban on single-use plastics, starting in June. The ban will impact food outlets, supermarkets, grocers, butchers, fruit and vegetable vendors and pharmacies. Plastic cutlery and drinking straws will no longer be allowed.
Egyptians use 12 billion plastic bags every year, many of which end up in the Nile or the sea. Heavy garbage collection bags are not included in the ban.
The ban extends to the manufacture of plastic bags.
“The decree is to protect species which are severely affected by ingestion, starvation, suffocation, drowning, entanglement and toxicity from plastic remains, a problem which also affects human health,” said a statement by Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA). An awareness campaign about the negative impact of plastic on marine life and human health has been launched by HEPCA.
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Onboard theft
SECURITY personnel at Cairo International Airport arrested a Chinese passenger on Saturday and referred him to investigation after he was caught stealing from passengers onboard a Beijing-Cairo flight.
Sources at EgyptAir explained say the suspect stole items from five passengers before a passenger caught him red-handed. Security staff arrested the thief and signalled to Cairo Airport for police to meet the passenger on arrival. Upon questioning, the passenger confessed to the thefts.


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