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Egypt court orders retrial of 2011 key activist

© AFP/File | Leading Egyptian opposition campaigner Ahmed Douma was arrested in 2013 on charges of having clashed with security forces in Cairo two years earlier, and in 2015 sentenced to life in prison

CAIRO (AFP) - 

An Egyptian court ordered Thursday a retrial of activist Ahmed Douma, a leading figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled the government who had been sentenced to life, a judicial source said.

Douma was arrested in 2013 on charges of having clashed with security forces in Cairo two years earlier, and in 2015 sentenced to life in prison.

The court of cassation cancelled the life sentence -- which in Egypt amounts to 25 years in jail -- and ordered a new trial, the judicial source said.

Douma's lawyer, Khaled Ali, said he will request his release pending the new trial.

"Now he is supposed to be released and then he can start his new trial normally," Ali told AFP.

Douma was one of the leading activists of the 2011 revolt that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

He was sentenced to life along with 229 others, but he was the only defendant present in court for the trial which was condemned by the United States and the European Union.

They were all accused of assaulting security forces and setting alight government buildings, including a cultural centre founded in 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte that contained more than 200,000 books.

He received the life sentence after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office, following the military ouster led by Sisi of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Although Douma was a protest leader against Morsi, he was arrested during a crackdown on opposition figures that followed Morsi's ouster, which began with Islamists and later targeted secular activists.

Rights groups and critics of Sisi say authorities are using the judiciary as an arm to repress any form of dissent, including from secularists like Douma.

© 2017 AFP