10/09/2012, 00.00
EGYPT
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Amnesty for Jasmine Revolution participants, silence for Coptic victims of Maspero massacre

Announced today, the decision is seen by many as a political ploy. President Morsi pardons people who took part in the Tahrir Square protests. Who should benefit from it leads to row since no one was arrested for protest. The massacre of Copts last year in front of state TV building is ignored. Former leader of Muslim Brotherhood: "The silence that fell on the tragedy of Maspero is a crime against the all country".

Cairo (AsiaNews) - After almost 100 days in power, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has issued a pardon for all those jailed in connection with protest in Tahrir Square against Hosni Mubarak and his regime.

After the fall of Egypt's old strongman and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the release of activists had become one of the main demands of the young participants in the Jasmine Revolution.

For their part, Christians have complained that the president has done nothing about the soldiers and police responsible for the death of 28 Copts at the Maspero building on 9 October 2011. At present, the trials of the military involved in the case have not yet begun, whilst many Coptic protesters are still in jail.

Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a pro-revolution lawyer involved in many of the protesters' cases, said the amnesty is too little too late and that the pardons should come with a financial compensation.

Abdel-Aziz explained that the decree is likely meant to ease political pressure on Morsi just days ahead of a pro-democracy rally against the president's policies planned for Friday.

The amnesty should benefit a thousand people, but critics already have already noted the problem of who should be freed. After all, people were not jailed for protesting but for resistance to public officials or causing a public disturbance.

"It is a great step, but not enough," said Ahmed Seif, a member of the committee formed by Morsi to review cases of those tried following the uprising. "Now, there will be differences over how to implement the pardon," he added.

Ahmed Ragheb, a human rights lawyer, goes a step further and laments that the amnesty doesn't include "all the victims of the past period." Morsi's choice of wording in the decree, "those supporting the revolution," can be interpreted in different ways.

In fact, hardened criminals, some on murder charges, are included among the 12,000 civilians brought before military tribunals when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was in power.

The silence on the Maspero's massacre and about the processes against military abusers has also been criticized by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. From his Twitter profile, Mohamed Habib, a former deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, applauds the decree of release signed by bites, but is shocked that those responsible for the massacre of Maspero have not yet been punished. "The silence that fell on the tragedy of Maspero and the lack of compensation for the families are a crime against the country".

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