Egyptian court sentences 75 islamists to death in mass trial
In a mass trial of more than 700 defendants, an Egyptian court has sentenced 75 people to death for their involvement in a pro-muslim brotherhood protest from 2013.
Among the convicted are brotherhood leaders Essam al-Erian and Mohamed Beltag, as well the prominent imam and television preacher Safwat Hegazi.
After the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état, that resulted in the Egyptian military overthrowing and detaining president Mohamed Morsi, the muslim brotherhood organised protests in support of Morsi.
The majority of the accused were arrested during an assault of the security forces on a sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adawiya square in Cairo, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.
The charges against the convinced included the murder of citizens and police man, terrorizing people and possession of weapons, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Multiple other suspects where given prison sentences of various lengths, up to life terms, by the Cairo Criminal Court. One of the people sentenced to prison by the court was Mr. Morsi’s son Osama, who was convicted to 10 years.
Human rights organisations such as the UN and Amnesty International have condemned the trial, describing it as a “mockery of justice”
“The fact that not a single police officer has been brought to account for the killing of at least 900 people in the…protests shows what a mockery of justice this trial was.” Said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International,in a statement, adding that “The death penalty should never be an option under any circumstances.”
Bounaim mentioned that in the Rabaa al-Adawiya trial, the group of 739 protesters were collectively prosecuted for the killing of 17 men, including seven members of the police force, as well as other charges that included illegal gathering, incitement to break the law and involvement in violence.
The verdict, that was announced yesterday, was postponed twice due to security concerns. Judge Hassan Farid announced the verdict in a crowded courtroom in Cairo’s Tora Prison where the inmates appeared behind a metal cage.
This is one of multiple mass trials targeting the muslim brotherhood, which is now banned in the country, after the 2013 coup. Among the largest of these trials, a Minya court issued the death penalty for 683 defendants for charges of murder and violence, back in 2014.
On paper, Egyptian courts are independent, but they have received criticism from activists that claim they side with the government since the 2013 coup. The defendants can still challenge the verdict in a higher court and request a retrial.