CAIRO (AP):Egyptian authorities yesterday released two dozen Islamist women and girls convicted for staging a street protest after an appeals court reduced their harsh penalties, including prison terms of 11 years, to suspended sentences.
The initial verdict handed down late last month caused an international and domestic outcry.
"This is God-given," Ola Alaa, an 18-year-old medical student who was initially sentenced to 11 years, told The Associated Press by telephone after reaching her home in the coastal city of Alexandria.
"I think [the authorities] wanted to calm things down," she said.
The 21 defendants, who included seven teenagers, were held in custody for more than one month.
The 14 women, mostly around the age of 20, were originally sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted in connection to an October 31 protest in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
The minors were ordered held until they turned 18, when their cases would have been re-evaluated. The group faced charges including "thuggery" and the use of weapons, the latter for allegedly having thrown rocks.
Defence lawyer al-Shimaa Saad said women received one-year suspended sentences while the minors' sentences were reduced to three-month probation.