21 Egyptian Women Released from Jail After Harsh Sentences AppealedS

Following news earlier that a court in Alexandria would be hearing the appeal of the 14 Egyptian women sentenced to 11 years in jail for their peaceful pro-Mohamed Morsi demonstration, Egyptian authorities released those women, along with seven girls who were initially ordered to be held until they turned 18.

According to the New York Times, Egyptian authorities released the 21 women and girls on Saturday after an appeals court reduced their harsh penalties (for the women, a staggering 11 years in prison; for the girls, incarceration until their 18th birthdays) to suspended sentences. The women were sentenced last month for their involvement in pro-Morsi protests after being convicted of several charges that included "thuggery" and the use of weapons (the minors, meanwhile, were said to have thrown rocks).

A defense lawyer confirmed that the women's sentences had been reduced to one-year suspended sentences, while the girls were sentenced to three months of probation. The original harsh sentences were vociferously decried across Egypt, with outrage reaching as far as the Human Rights Watch, which characterized the sentences as "blatantly political" and asserted that the court had violated the women's right to a free trial by not allowing witnesses to testify in the women's defense and providing little evidence on the charges they faced.

Image via AP, Eman Helal