Handing 14 death sentences in the “Operation Room” trial was a political decision, defence lawyer Halim Henish said on Tuesday.
Henish said the legal articles used, from article 7 to 14 of the criminal law, do not include the death sentence as punishment for these charges. “The ruling is incorrect,” he said.
The Cairo Criminal Court had referred Monday the files of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 13 other convicts to the Grand Mufti, a prerequisite before enforcing death sentences.
Two of the 18 pleadings in the case were among those handed the death sentence. “The judge did not take his time to look into the lawyers’ notes,” Henish said.
In the case, 51 people are charged with “forming an operations room to direct the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood to defy the government during the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in dispersal, and to spread chaos in the country”, according to a statement released by the Prosecutor General’s office in February 2014.
The court is set to rule for the remaining defendants on 11 April.
Badie and 50 others have stood trial since April 2014 in case number 2210/2014. The case is headed by Judge Nagy Shehata, who is also presiding over four other high-profile cases, including the ‘Cabinet Clashes’ and the former Al Jazeera journalists’ trial. Shehata has been widely criticised for handing our severe sentences with little supporting evidence.
Those who were handed death sentences include Mahmoud Abdullah Ghazala, Hossam Abu Bakr, Omar Malik, and Soltan Salahuddin.
“The ruling is tragic, but expected,” said Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Wafaa Al-Banna. She said that TV presenter Ahmad Moussa, “the PR of the coup”, had announced that death sentences will follow the Economic Summit that Egypt hosted from Friday to Sunday.
There was no “operations room”, Al-Banna further confirmed. “It was a peaceful sit-in calling for freedom,” she said. In any United Nations law, it is a right, she pointed out.
Salah Al-Din’s son, Mohamed, is also accused in the same case, and will be handed a verdict on 11 April. There are 12 journalists and media personnel incriminated in the case as well.
Commenting on what to expect in the 11 April sentence, Al-Banna said that it depends on “how many they are willing to kill”.
“They are terrorists, terrorising citizens with unjustified sentences,” Al-Banna said. She added that the only solution is for this regime to leave.
According to the prosecution, in the aftermath of the mass protests of 30 June, Badie and his assistant, Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ghuzlan, plotted to “spread chaos in the country, break into police stations, government institutions, private property and churches”, with the aim of making Egypt appear unable to govern in the eyes of the international community.
Such an implication, the statement said, was aimed at weakening the government and preparing it for a takeover, to be replaced with a government formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, who would name the acting president and attempt to win international recognition.