ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT: Egypt sentences a further 183 people to death in new purge of political opposition

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25 Jun 2014
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty

Today’s decision by a criminal court in El Minya, UpperEgypt to uphold death sentences against 183 supporters of Mohamed Morsi, including a blind man, provides alarming evidence of the Egyptian judiciary’s increasingly politicized and arbitrary attitude towards justice and the death penalty, said Amnesty International. 

The sentences come hot on the heels of seven executions last week, the first in Egypt since 2011.

 “In recent months Egyptian courts appear to have handed out death sentences at the drop of a hat, including in two mass trials based on flimsy evidence and deeply flawed proceedings,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The court had recommended death sentences for all 683 defendants during a hearing on 28 April after which the case was referred to Egypt’s Grand Mufti, who must be consulted before any death sentence can be formally imposed.

The 683 defendants had faced charges in connectionwith violence around the police station in the village of al-Adwa in the governorate of El Minya on 14 August 2013 following the bloody dispersal of a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in in Cairo.

Over the past year there has been a surge in politically motivated verdicts in cases involving supporters of the former President Mohamed Morsi.

Earlier this week on 19 June, the Giza Criminal Court recommended death sentences for top Muslim Brotherhood leaders Mohamed Badie, Safwat Hegazi and Mohamed El-Beltagi, as well as 11 others in yet another example of politically motivated sentencing.

They were convicted of inciting violence among other charges in relation to clashes outside Al Istiqama mosque in Giza last August following the fall of former President Mohamed Morsi. The court is to issue the verdict on 3 August after consulting the Grand Mufti.

“At best, Egypt's judicial system is erratic, and at worst its decisions raise serious concerns over its independence and impartiality. Clearly, Egypt's judicial system is broken and no longer able to deliver justice. The death penalty is being ruthlessly deployed as a tool to eliminate political opponents. The death sentences recommended against prominent political leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood last week are an example of Egypt’s capricious criminal justice system in practice ,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Not one police officer has been found guilty of being involved in violence since the ousting of the former President or the killing of up to 1,000 people on 14 August 2013 after security forces used excessive lethal force to disperse two pro-Morsi sit ins in Cairo. 

21 June 2014

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