Egyptians Cleared of Riot Charges after Road Death

Published July 5th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

An Egyptian court Wednesday cleared 77 people charged with rioting on a highway near Cairo on March 5th, during which police opened fire on angry residents protesting the road death of a student. 

State security court judge, Abdu Ahmed Atiya, pronounced them innocent for "lack of evidence" after they were accused of using violence against the police, stopping traffic and endangering the transport system. 

Atiya read the verdict at the Qalyubiya province state security court in Benha. 

Around ten people were wounded by police bullets and another 50 were hurt when 3,000 rioters from Mit Nama village north of Cairo blocked the highway where a female student was killed. 

The charges against the 77 included throwing stones at the police, damaging buses, police cars and private vehicles and placing rocks and branches on a nearby railway line. 

Two of the defendants were also accused of setting fire to a paper warehouse and another five were accused of torching a fire engine. 

Since the violence, there have been other riots sparked by incidents on Egypt's roads. Also in March, police used tear gas to disperse a crowd who set fire to a bus that struck and killed two girls. 

Last month, 19 people were arrested following riots in which they damaged buses following a traffic dispute between a policeman and a bus driver. 

An Egyptian prosecutor, who asked not to be named, said incidents of rioting in Egypt are often "temporary emotional reactions to road accident or traffic jams." 

"As road accidents have increased, riots have become more frequent in the last two years," he said - CAIRO (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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