By LIAM STACK / http://www.nytimes.com / Published: July 5, 2011.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION-II: Acquittals of Ex-Officials Feed Anger Across Egypt!
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CAIRO — An Egyptian criminal court on Tuesday acquitted three former government ministers of corruption while convicting a fourth in absentia, verdicts most likely to further inflame public anger over the pace of efforts to hold former officials accountable for killing more than 800 people during the country’s 18-day revolution.
The acquittals were seen as especially provocative because they followed by one day a separate Cairo court decision to release on bail seven police officers charged with killing 17 protesters and wounding 350 in the city of Suez during the revolution. That decision set off a riot at the courthouse and led protesters to block a major highway for hours.
The decisions have aggravated growing anger at the military council now running the country. It has faced mounting criticism from protesters who say it is too slow to prosecute former officials, yet has moved quickly and aggressively to prosecute hundreds of civilians before military courts in connection with pro-democracy activities.
“People see more and more that nothing is changing,” said Lilian Wagdy, who is helping to organize a large protest in Tahrir Square on Friday. “Those who have been robbing this country for 30 years get acquitted, while protesters are found guilty before military courts.”
Egyptian officials have increasingly struggled to contain deep public anger and frustration. Those demanding political change are angry over alleged rights violations and unsatisfactory trials. Others are fed up with the post-revolutionary uncertainty and crippled economy. Their sentiments often erupt in violence, sometimes pitting policemen against protesters, and civilians against civilians.
A coalition of human rights groups sued the military council on Tuesday on behalf of a woman they said was tried before a military court in March, tortured and forced to submit to a “virginity test” within view and earshot of military prison workers.
Violence has also continued in the capital. On Saturday, 47 people were injured when protesters in Tahrir Square clashed with tea vendors they accused of being agents planted by the police.
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