Death sentences upheld amidst unfair trials

19/06/2015
Communiqué

FIDH strongly condemns the confirmation of more than 100 death sentences, including that of former president Mohamed Morsi and other prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Handing down mass death sentences in trials that have failed to uphold due process and establish individual guilt not only demonstrates the global deterioration of the judicial system in Egypt, but it can also be inscribed in a broader wave of attacks led by the authorities which aims to terrorize the political opposition and Egyptian civil society as a whole, declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

On 16 June 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court upheld the death sentences against Mohamed Morsi, Mohamed Badie, Saad al-Katatny, Essam al-Erian, Rashad Bayoumi, Mohie Hamed, and 94 defendants who were sentenced in absentia. The court also upheld life sentences against 20 Muslim Brotherhood leaders. The case relates to the prison break in 2011 where the defendants were charged with complicity to murder, and collaborating with foreign militants to break out of prison. In another case that was tried before the same court, Mohamed Morsi and 16 others were also sentenced to life imprisonment, and Mohamed al-Beltagy, Khairat al-Shater, Ahmed Abdel Aty and 13 others tried in absentia were sentenced to death on charges of espionage. Among those sentenced in absentia is university professor Emad Shahin.

Those sentences were pronounced following unfair mass trials and, regarding the case of former president Mohamed Morsi and his aids, after they were initially submitted to forced disappearance and illegally detained in unknown detention centers right after their arrest,

FIDH expresses deep concern at the outcome of those condemnations. The death sentences in both cases were already referred to the Grand Mufti for approval on May 16 . The sentences can be appealed before the Court of Cassation which examines the application of law, but not evidence. In May 2015, the State Council was due to consider an appeal to halt the execution of six defendants who were tried before a military court on charges of planning armed attacks against military targets in 2014. The African Commission for Human and People’s Rights requested provisional measures from the Egyptian authorities to halt the execution of the six. However, they were executed days ahead of the appeal.

FIDH recalls that since July 2013 more than 670 death sentences have been handed down after mass unfair trials.

FIDH, a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, condemns the application of the death penalty and calls for the immediate cancellation of the death sentences. The accused should have the right to another trial respecting fair trial guarantees in accordance with international standards. FIDH calls on the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to express its position on the illegality of the procedures of the mass death sentences in accordance with international and African human rights instruments.

The Egyptian authorities must abolish the death penalty for all crimes, impose an immediate moratorium on death sentences and executions, and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” declared Lahidji.

FIDH reiterates its firm opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances, as it considers it an inhumane treatment and in some cases a form of torture. FIDH recalls that there is now a general trend towards abolition of the death penalty among states worldwide, and accordingly calls on Egypt to follow the same path.

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