Student Patrick Zaki sentenced to three years in prison in Egypt

Patrick Zaki

 ROME - - Zaki, a student at Bologna university who spoke out against Egyptian authorities, has been given a prison sentence of three years.

 Zaki was taken away after the verdict and his lawyer remarked: “He will have to serve another 14 months”, according to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano

 Zaki is a young university researcher who has been waiting to know his fate since his arrest in February 2020. He has been detained in Egypt since then.

 The sentence was reported to Italian news agency ANSA by one of the activist's four lawyers at the end of the hearing on July 18 in Mansura, Egypt. Zaki - who graduated with an honours degree from Bologna's Alma Mater University on July 5 - was taken out of the courtroom through the defendants' cage amid the shouts of his mother and girlfriend who were waiting outside, Fatto adds.  

 Zaki is accused by the Egyptian government of spreading false news for an article written in 2019 about ISIS attacks and two cases of discrimination against the Coptic community. Zaki was facing up to five years in prison. 

 "Patrick has been arrested in court ahead of his transfer to Gamasa police station," wrote Hossam Bahgat, Egyptian human rights activist and founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (Eipr), the same NGO with which Zaki worked, on Twitter. 

 Zaki's lead lawyer announced an appeal against the conviction: "We will ask the military governor to annul the sentence or have the trial retried as was done in the case of Ahmed Samir Santawy," Hoda Nasrallah told ANSA.

 "I hope the judge will set a date for the verdict and let Patrick go free and not postpone the trial again," Nasrallah remarked to the news agency before the verdict was read. 

 "I have just arrived at Mansura court and am waiting for the hearing to begin. I hope, as usual, the end of the trial will allow me to travel normally,” Zaki had written on Facebook at around 10.15 local time (9.15 in Italy). 

 The young man had been remanded in custody on 13 September 2021 after 19 months. At each hearing, the custody was renewed by 45 days. From 7 February 2020 to 8 December 2021, he was detained in several Egyptian prisons. 

 When he was released, he gave thanks for the numerous demonstrations organised to demand his release. 

 "Our commitment to a positive solution for Patrick Zaki's case has never ceased, it continues, we still have confidence," expressed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.