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Global condemnation of Minya mass death sentences

Prosecutor general orders appeal for all 528 sentenced in Minya on Monday

An Egyptian woman holding the portrait of a relative reacts outisde the court that sentenced 682 alleged Islamists and a Muslim Brotherhood leader to death on April 28, 2014 in the southern city of Minya. The same court in the southern province of Minya also reversed 492 of 529 death sentences it passed in March, commuting most of those to life in prison. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI
An Egyptian woman holding the portrait of a relative reacts outisde the court that sentenced 682 alleged Islamists and a Muslim Brotherhood leader to death on April 28, 2014 in the southern city of Minya. The same court in the southern province of Minya also reversed 492 of 529 death sentences it passed in March, commuting most of those to life in prison. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

The preliminary sentencing of 683 people to death and the ratification of 37 other death sentences has prompted domestic and international condemnation of the two judgements, passed by the same judge in the Minya Criminal Court.

Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat announced on Monday evening that he is launching an appeal for the all of the sentences handed down to the group of 528, including the 17 acquitted and those given life sentences.

Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was among the defendants who received preliminary death sentences on Monday, which will be considered by Grand Mufti Shawky Allam and a final verdict will be given on 21 June. Judge Saeed Youssef also delivered the final verdict for 528 people who he preliminarily sentenced to death on 24 March. After receiving Allam’s opinion on Sunday Youssef upheld 37 death sentences, acquitted 17 and gave reduced life sentences to the remaining defendants.

Defence lawyers claim that both trials were not conducted properly, with each lasting two sessions without hearing the defence’s arguments.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy pointed out that “there is a separation of powers” in Egypt and said it is necessary to “let the legal process follow through”, adding “this one still has a very long process.”

Eighteen human rights groups expressed their condemnation of the rulings in a joint statement released on Tuesday. The organisations expressed “their disapproval of the involvement and the use of the judiciary as a tool to suppress political opponents.” Among the signatories are the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression and the Arab Network for Human Rights.

The rights groups also claim that Youssef “has a track record of imposing tough sanctions on those accused of acts of violence against security forces.” The examples given include the sentencing of 13 people to a total of 88 years for rioting last Sunday and the acquittal of all security personnel accused of killing protesters in Beni Suef during the 25 January Revolution.

Political parties also weighed in to express their concern. The Free Egyptians Party welcomed the appeal launched by the prosecutor general and “confirmed its rejection of illegal, retaliatory methods in dealing with political opponents. The party said on Tuesday: “The Egyptian Revolution, which came to establish justice and a state based on the rule of law, cannot countenance double standards or breaches of law that override the right of the citizen to a fair trial.”

The Salafi Al-Nour Party pointed to Article 96 of the constitution that includes the provisions for a free and fair trial and that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. The statement, issued by Talaat Marzouk, a member of the Al-Nour Council, called on interim President Adly Mansour to amend the Criminal Procedure Code to prevent the situation from happening again.

The Muslim Brotherhood “denounced the kangaroo court” in a Tuesday statement, saying “Coup authorities have now resorted to the heinous weapon of corrupt judiciary… in a final attempt to terrorise the raging populace.” The group, now outlawed in Egypt and dubbed a terrorist organisation, called on the international community “to break their silence with regard to these crimes…  and to condemn these abominable acts.”

International condemnation was led by the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom and Turkey, who all strongly condemned Monday’s rulings all expressing concerns that neither trial was conducted in line with international standards.

Spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said: “Verdicts that clearly appear not to meet basic fair trial standards, particularly those which impose the death penalty, are likely to undermine prospects for long-term stability.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also weighed in. “It is outrageous that for the second time in two months, the Sixth Chamber of the Criminal Court in Minya has imposed the death sentence on huge groups of defendants after perfunctory trials,” she stressed.

“It is high time that Egypt takes its human rights commitments seriously,” she added,   pointing out that Egypt is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “It is impossible to believe that such proceedings could satisfy even the most basic standards of justice, let alone meet Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law.” She called on the Egyptian government to “remedy the situation and reverse these court rulings” and “to suspend future mass trials of Egyptians.”

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  • Nobby Stiles

    This is mad !

    I am an Indian and am used to democracy.
    I still cannot get this thing around my head that why was a democratically elected government overthrown by street-protests ?
    This is amazing ! and now on top of that, they are executing the workers/supporters of ousted party ! My Goodness …
    What if Muslim Brotherhood came to power ? In my country, the Hindu Right wing party had come to power once and might as well come again … but this does not mean that minorities and leftists start bombing places …
    I must reluctantly say that Arabs, including Egyptians, are not of democratic nature …

    • rpgivpgmr

      It is said that Egypt’s military controls up to 40% of its GDP.
      Even if a more diplomatic government type was put in power there by Egypt’s people,
      military businesses will still make all the money?
      How can that work for common people?

      • Nobby Stiles

        Sorry bro … was off busy …
        Hummm … this is new info to me. Now we know the reason why the Armed Forces in that country are not willing to relinquish power ? If a fully functional democracy will come to power, Egyptian markets will become more competent, which invariably means, that this lucrative-pie of Egyptian economy that the Armed Forces hold, will slip through their fingers.
        Mind you, this is also the reason in Pakistan, Army holds a lot of stake in that country’s economy, and, that is why does not like it when civilian governments come back to power.

    • timepass

      The democratically elected government of Morsi was overthrown by the Army, not by street protesters. The Egyptian Army has for decades been receiving an annual stipend from the US government.
      The US government has a long track record of supporting military dictators.

      The Muslim Brotherhood was considered a threat by the other US ally and despot ruled country – Saudi Arabia.

      Israel too considered it a threat, the same country that annexes and builds illegal settlements (while the US points fingers at central europe)

      So the great “champion” of democracy, liberty and freedom – the US – put 2 and 3 together and out went Morsi, in came a General. At the US’s pleasure, 600 odd people will be killed in cold blood.

      The fact is that the despots and dictators in the Middle East are there at the US’s pleasure and to meet their requirements. The people of Egypt and Arabia do not have a say in the matter – it is not as if they do not want democracy and freedom. The US will not allow it.

    • F. Eissa

      I wish democratic and peaceful India would never experience what we have seen in Egypt under the Mouslim Brotherhood. I wish India would never find it’s peaceful people under terrorism by the democratic elected rulers. I wish India would never feel a danger that people in The streets would start killing each other, because only then my Indian friend would change his attitude and thinking that your country is under attack by terrorists = war. If you ever joined the army you would learn that at this stage and during war, against someone attacking your country you dont think democratically when you kill a terrorist. Democracy only work with civilians not armed terrorists groups.

      • Nobby Stiles

        Brother Eissa ‘democratic and peaceful’ India has an organisation called RSS fullform- Rashtrya Swayamsewak Sangh- considered to be a sectarian militia/ideological organisation, probably more deep-rooted and potentially more sinister than your Brotherhood will ever be. Try and read about it a bit more and you would know what I mean.
        But what stops it from actually picking up arms (not that it doesn’t do it sometimes) ? Its democracy … free and fair polls … So whenever the political wing of this organisation (BJP) wins elections, it starts celebrating and telling its adversaries ‘see … we beat you’ or when it loses then it realises that the public does not support them ! What happens is that in a flash, the ballot replaces the bullet … that is the magic of voting bro …
        As for ‘peaceful India’ … I live here … and know very well how we love ‘killing and cussing’ each others on the roads … just try and read about last few sectarian/communal violence incidents in India- say within last couple of years in India … you will know that we are after all not that peaceful … but why are we not more violent ? The answer is democracy ….

  • F. Eissa

    The democratically elected Government of the Muslim Brotherhood and it’s appointed President ruled non democratically when changed the constitution and terrorising Egyptians in the street. Mouslim brotherhood is a terrorist group and wanted to transform a country with more than 7000 years of history and civilisation to a group/gang rules not respecting it’s people. Guess what would happen is such a case with an uprising of a population who insists to bring back Egypt to it’s worldwide leadership?! We went out in the streets again the same way we did during Mubarak, but this time in Millions that history had never witnessed. The population asked for early presidential elections and one would have expected from a democratic elected president to listen to and address their needs respecting those who gave him their votes. Moursi challenged The Egyptian nation refusing to respond and insisting not to act for days when Egypt was on the vurge of a street wars because the Supporters of Mr Moursi are licensed to torture, kill and attack people! What do you think one of the oldest organized and Noble armies in the world would do? Would they act to kill their own people or watch their country collapse or take the side of the popoulation announcing a new democratic road changing the constitution and allowing elections?! Egypt had an army when most of the world was still finding it’s way to survive. It is Tue same army that took the same stance during Mubarak’s time and the whole world was blessing such a move as a “step towards democracy”. Why the world don’t understand it now?!

  • F. Eissa

    With respect to the respected comments on the “death sentences”, I would suggest to have a look at the videos on YouTube of the mass terrorism of the Mouslim Brotherhood in Menyaand how they attacked a police station killing the police officers on duty and grabbing their dead bodies in the streets before commenting. Not only that, but the savages followed the body of the dead police officer to the hospitals and killed him again! I respect court decisions but if it was me I would give such people more than one death sentence!
    This is the first stage trial and the court in Egypt gives the chance for more than one appeal after a final court decision.

  • F. Eissa

    And according to the Egyptian law those who ran away from justice get the highest degree of punishment till they turn themselves in or are caught by the police, they have the full right to start the whole process of trials again to prove their rights! This is the reason why the same court requested the opinion of the grand Moufti for not than 500 terrorists before but the death sentence was only applies on 7 ! The same process take place for the 600 plus, it doesn’t mean they are sentenced to death and it doesn’t mean it’s all of them and it doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance to appeal. I kindly ask those who so not understand how the Egyptian law works or have something against a court decision, to prove otherwise and infront of the court. For those who don’t like that the Egyptian court give death sentence to 7 terrorists to please provide whatever they have to defend them to the court. When the court doesn’t take it in consideration, then they have the right to talk.

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  • Al Masry

    Finally justice arrived to those criminals. Keep at them to cure our mnation from those cancer cells.

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