The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced six defendants to death in absentia on charges of storming into the Ghad Al-Thawra Party’s headquarters. The court accused the defendants of possessing weapons and ammunition.
Ghad Al-Thawra Party Head Ayman Nour said that he objects to the death sentences, even if they were in the party’s favour.
The incident happened last year, as assailants stormed into the party’s headquarters, which left some of the party’s furniture burnt. After the incident, Nour accused the police of storming into the party.
The defendants were designated by the media as “Black Bloc members”, an underground guerrilla group who appeared in protests, frequently clashing with riot police.
According to the preliminary investigations, three of the defendants confessed to breaking into the party and acquiring light and melee weapons. The defendants also confessed to taking individuals in the headquarters as hostages.
The judge on the case is the much-criticised Nagy Shehata, who has been accused of a pro-government bias and handing out harsh sentences, including mass death and life sentences, to pro-democracy protesters.
As yet, hundreds have received death sentences, with many international and local human rights organisations condemning the procedures as “politicised” and “unjustified”. Since the beginning of 2015, 12 executions have taken place in Egypt, the latest being the controversial execution of six men from the ‘Arab Sharkas cell’.
The executions were condemned by local human rights organisations, who described them as a continuation of “human rights violations in the country”. Egyptian penal institutions have long been criticised for committing various violations against citizens.
Nour is a prominent Egyptian politician, who participated in presidential elections under former president Hosni Mubarak.
Months after running in Egypt’s first multi-candidate elections, in which he was a distant second to the then-incumbent president Mubarak, Nour was put on trial for fabrication to form his opposition party. He was found guilty in 2005 and the verdict was ratified by the Appeals Court in 2006, and was eventually released in 2009. He is currently highly critical of the government of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.