Amnesty International slams Egypt mass death sentences
by Anadolu Agency
LONDON, UKJun 22, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Jun 22, 2014 12:00 am
The human rights organization Amnesty International condemned Saturday the decision of a criminal court in El Minya, Upper Egypt, to uphold the death sentences of 183 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, including the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This decision provides alarming evidence of the Egyptian judiciary's increasingly politicized and arbitrary attitude toward justice and the death penalty, Amnesty International said in a statement.
"The verdicts in this case provide the latest example of the Egyptian judiciary's bid to crush dissent," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. "The Egyptian authorities must quash these sentences and order a fair retrial for all the defendants, without recourse to the death penalty."
The defendants, who included Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie, were convicted of committing violence, attacking two police stations and killing a policeman in Minya last August following the violent dispersal of two anti-coup sit-ins in Cairo, in which hundreds of people were killed.
The judicial sources told The Anadolu Agency on Saturday that those condemned to death included a Christian and a blind man.
On April 28, the same court referred the files of the 183 defendants, along with the files of 500 others, to the grand Mufti, the country's highest religious authority, to seek advice on their possible execution.
Egyptian authorities have started a massive crackdown on the members and the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi's ouster by the military last July.
"At best, Egypt's judicial system is erratic, and at worst its decisions raise serious concerns over its independence and impartiality," Sahraoui said. "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."
Amnesty International said in the statement that "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."