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  4. ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT: 528 MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH AFTER MASS TRIAL

ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT:
528 MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH AFTER MASS TRIAL

Update info:
3 Apr 2014
Country:
ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT
Subject:
528 men sentenced to death in unfair trial
Gender: m
Period:
9 May 2014
Distribution date:
3 Apr 2014
UA No:
075/2014

An Egyptian court has sentenced 528 people to death, most in their absence, following a grossly unfair trial. It is the largest number of death sentences handed down in one case in recent years.

A court in the city of Minya, Upper Egypt, tried 545 people on charges ranging from “murdering a police officer”, “attempted murder of two police officers”, “setting fire to Mattay police station in the governorate of Minya and stealing firearms from it on 14 August 2013”, as well as “administering and belonging to a banned group”. On 24 March, the court sentenced 528 of them to death.

Although 118 of the defendants had been detained, defence lawyers have told Amnesty International that just 64 of them were present in court when the trial opened on 22 March, with a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes. The prosecutor did not read out the charges, which is required under Egyptian law. The judge did not allow the defence to cross-examine any witnesses, and did not review evidence against the 528. The judge also rejected the defence’s request for additional time to review the 3,070 pages of case documents, stating he would deliver the verdict on 24 March. After some of the defence team argued with the judge, angered at the way he was handling the case, and called for a different judge to hear the case, he ordered armed guards to surround them.

The trial continued on 24 March in the absence of all the defendants, who were not brought to court by the security forces, as well as the defence lawyers, who were barred from attending by the court. The judge referred 528 of the defendants to the country’s highest religious official, the Grand Mufti, for his advice. Under Egyptian law, he must be consulted on all death sentences imposed by criminal courts, though his opinion is not legally binding on the court. The judge will formally issue his final decision on 28 April.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi took to the streets across Egypt on 14 August 2013, after the security forces violently dispersed pro-Morsi sit-ins in the Rabaa al-Adawiya district of Nasr City and al-Nahda Square in Giza. In the next few days, hundreds died at the hands of the security forces, who used excessive force, including intentional lethal force, to break up the protests.

In the wake of the crackdown, some of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters attacked government buildings, police stations and security forces. In some attacks police officers were captured, beaten and even killed. In a recent report, the National Council for Human Rights stated that 64 members of the security forces had died in violence across Egypt between 14 and 17 August 2013, as well as eight at Rabaa al-Adawiya. Coptic Christian communities also faced scores of attacks on churches, homes and businesses.

Name: 528 men sentenced to death in unfair trial

Gender m/f: m

UA: 75/14 Index: mde 12/016/2014 Issue Date: 28 March 2014

Take action

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

  • Urging the Egyptian authorities to overturn the 528 death sentences handed down on 24 March and order retrials that rigorously adhere to international standards for fair trial without recourse to the death penalty;
  • Calling on them to commute all confirmed death sentences, and establish a moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolition.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 9 MAY 2014 TO:
Minister of Justice
Nayer Abdel-Moneim Othman
Ministry of Justice
Cairo
Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2 7958103
Email: mojeb@idsc.gov.eg
Salutation: Your Excellency

Interim President
Adly Mahmoud Mansour
Office of the President
Al Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2 391 1441
Salutation: Your Excellency

Public Prosecutor
Hesham Mohamed Zaki Barakat
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Supreme Court House, 1 “26 July” Road
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2 577 4716
+202 2 575 7165 (switched off after office hours, GMT+2)
Salutation: Dear Counsellor

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.