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Mass trial in Minya postponed to 28 April

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Defence lawyers boycott trial

 A relative of a supporter of Egyptian ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi cries outside the courthouse on March 25, 2014 in the central Egyptian city of Minya, during a session of the trial of some 700 Islamists charged with deadly rioting in an Egypt city. The court that the day before sentenced to death 529 alleged supporters of Morsi will sentence nearly 700 more on April 28, a lawyer said, after the hearing was adjourned.  (AFP PHOTO / STR)

A relative of a supporter of Egyptian ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi cries outside the courthouse on March 25, 2014 in the central Egyptian city of Minya, during a session of the trial of some 700 Islamists charged with deadly rioting in an Egypt city. 
(AFP PHOTO / STR)

Minya Criminal Court postponed the mass trial of nearly 700 Brotherhood members and supporters to 28 April.

Defence lawyers had boycotted the Tuesday case after more than 500 defendants were handed a death sentence in a similar trial on Monday.

“It’s the same judge [as Monday’s case],” stated lawyer Gamal Abdul Hamid, citing this as the reason “all the defence lawyers have boycotted the trial.” He added: “Legally, a [defence] lawyer should be present, or else the ruling is illegal.”

Judge Saeed Youssef Sabri referred on Monday 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to Grand Mufti Shawqy Allam, who will provide his opinion on whether or not they should be executed for the death of one policeman last year while attacking a police station.

The court is not required to abide by the Mufti’s opinion, said Malek Adli, a lawyer at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights.

The defence lawyers were not permitted entry to the court while the judge announced the verdict.

“This verdict is beyond illegal and is a black mark on the Egyptian judiciary… The government is assigning thugs in judiciary positions,” said Adli. “The man [Sabri] is accelerating a second revolution. If Egyptians one day held weapons against each other, it will be because of this man and the likes [of him],” he added.

There were 683 defendants in Tuesday’s trial, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. Only 76 were present, while the rest were tried in absentia. Despite the defence’s boycott, the judge proceeded with the trial and heard the testimonies of 30 witnesses, said Abdul Hamid.

The defendants have all been charged with killing two policemen while carrying out an attack on Edwa Police Station in the Minya governorate. They have also been charged with “joining a terrorist organisation”.

Monday’s case is the biggest mass death sentence in the history of the Egyptian criminal court. Amnesty International described the decision in a report as a “grotesque example of the shortcomings and the selective nature of Egypt’s justice system”.

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Aya Nader

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