In-and-Out: 529 defendants sentenced to death.

 

A judge in Minya, Egypt recently sentenced to death 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. This is the largest mass trial in Egypt in decades. In just two court sessions the judge sentenced the 529 supporters for the murder of a single police officer and for attacking the police.

Mohamed Morsi was the fifth president of Egypt. He was the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history. Although his predecessors also held elections, these were generally marred by irregularities and allegations of rigging. As president, Morsi granted himself unlimited powers on the pretext that he would protect the nation from the old power structures. Protestors successfully removed him as President and brought him under criminal charges in late 2013.

Now, the defendants here were arrested last August during a wave of unrest in which supporters of the former president react violently to the clearance of a pro-Morsi sit-in in Cairo during which more than 900 people were killed. In addition to the murder, the 529 were accused of attempting to kill two other police officers and attacking a police station.

The death sentences are not final and appeals are likely; similar sentences have often been commuted in Egypt. But families of the accused and rights lawyers described the process as a miscarriage of justice. Many family members of the sentenced defendants are outraged and define this not as judicial sentence but blatant thuggery.

Mohamed Zaree, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), a prominent rights group, said: “This verdict is a disaster. To rule in the second session of a trial – it means the judge didn’t hear the defence or look at the evidence. Even someone from the second grade of the law faculty would never have issued this verdict – it goes against the basic principles of criminology.” The same court will try 683 more supporters on Tuesday – including the leader of the group, Mohamed Badie, and the head of its political wing, Saad al-Katatny.

It took only two days for this Court to determine the lives of 529 defendants. It seems as if the Judge walk into the courtroom with his mind already made up. I hope that the next 683 other supporters are given more than two days in criminal court to determine their guilt.

Comparing the sentencing systems used here in the US, how should the Egyptian Court determine the faith of the next 683 supporters? Does anyone believe that the Judge may have been biased towards the defendants because they were supporters of Morsi?

Source: CBS

Picture: Rawstory

3 comments

  1. Egypt has seen many ups and downs, especially within the recent couple of months. The country is extremely split between those who support the actions of President Morsi and those against. Although it can definitely be shown that 529 supporters participated in the death of the police officer, I feel that it may have been the actions of maybe a couple supporters who actually committed the act. To convict 529 individuals for the murder of one police officer seems a little bizarre, and there could be a hint of bias within the judgment. I feel that the sentencing must be based on not only on the person’s conduct as a group, but also the actions taken as an individual. To be sentenced to murder is a heavy charge and there must be proper evidence considered in order to assure that every person’s due process rights is taken into consideration.

  2. Free speech is not so free outside of the United States. Neither is freedom of association as you can see by the article. Of course the supporters of President Morsi should not have resorted to violence, like some did here, but there is something definitely wrong with the legal procedure utilized if it takes only two days to determine the lives of 529 defendants. This was the largest mass trial in Egypt in decades and all 529 people were sentenced to death for the murder of 1 police officer. Of course this sounds absurd, and something of this magnitude will likely never occur in the United States.

    I agree with Mohamed Zaree that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice and that the judge did not consider the rules of evidence when making his decision. I hope that the appeals of these defendants will be taken more seriously, and I too hope that the next 683 other supporters awaiting trial are given more than two days in criminal court to determine their guilt.

  3. Based on the American system, there is no chance that there would be a single trial to determine the guilt of 683 people. For a capital case, it is unlikely that there would be more than one defendant per trial. Each person should have an individual trial, with full presentation of evidence and defenses, in order to determine complicity in an event which could subject them to the death penalty. However, this is comparing apples and oranges; Egypt is in the midst of major instability and a crippling power struggle, due process is seemingly off the table.

    Furthermore, I think it is beyond question that this court was bias against the 529 defendants. The supporters were allegedly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is likely what they were really sentenced for. Even on the most expansive view of criminality, 529 people cannot be responsible for the death of one person. Egypt is fed up with the Muslim Brotherhood – perhaps rightfully so – but I truly believe that what Egypt wants is a free and open society; however, abusing the judiciary to right perceived wrongs is the method of dictators and not the path Egypt should be pursuing.

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