Six police officers were acquitted by a court in Egypt on Saturday. The officers had been accused of killing 83 protesters in the 2011 revolution in the country. This is the latest in a series of trials that failed to hold accountable the security forces in the country for the deaths of demonstrators, said rights groups.
The six acquittals come as Mohammed Morsi, the ousted Egyptian President, faces a number of different criminal charges. The former president appeared in a courtroom on Saturday. He is charged, along with 130 others over prison escapes that freed more than 20,000 prisoners during a 2011 18-day revolt that eventually toppled Hosni Mubarak the longtime autocrat.
The case of the police officers involved protesters’ killings in Alexandria a city on the Mediterranean. Prosecutors alleged the commanders armed the police with live ammunition giving officers the opportunity to shoot at the protesters in front of their police stations from rooftops nearby.
Attorneys representing the officers denied their clients had been responsible for the deaths. During a hearing on January 19, the lawyers referred to the Muslim Brotherhood organization as the true killers of those protesting.
Given that the uprising created great chaos, legal experts have said it is very difficult to hold any one individual accountable for one specific killing. Not a single police officer that was charged with the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising is in jail, which leads rights groups to accuse the judiciary in Egypt of protecting the security forces.
Brutality by police during the 29 years Mubarak was in office was the biggest reason for the uprising in 2011. However, Morsi and the army could not reform the forces. Since the ouster of Morsi on July 3, there have been thousands killed with others injured in crackdowns on supporters of Morsi.
Morsi was with 19 others in a courtroom in Cairo on Saturday. Nearly 130 people, which include members of the Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Hamas group, are charged and many are facing trials by absentia.
Morsi was freed himself during a prison break during the 2011 revolution, prior to becoming the first freely elected head of the country.