Egypt sentences 529 Morsi supporters to death

Updated Mar 24, 2014 05:11pm
On Tuesday, another mass trial against Morsi's supporters opens in a Minya court with 683 suspects facing similar charges.  — File photo
On Tuesday, another mass trial against Morsi's supporters opens in a Minya court with 683 suspects facing similar charges. — File photo

CAIRO: A court in southern Egyptian has convicted 529 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, sentencing them to death on charges of murdering a policeman and attacking police, convicting them after only two sessions in one of the largest mass trials in the country in decades.

The verdicts are subject to appeal and would likely be overturned, rights lawyers said.

But they said the swiftness and harshness of the rulings on such a large scale underlined the extent to which Egypt's courts have been politicised and due process has been ignored amid a sweeping crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters since the military removed the president last summer.

The first of the trial's two sessions in a court in the city of Minya, south of Cairo, saw furious arguments as the judge angrily rejected requests by defense lawyers for more time to let them review the trial documents for the hundreds of defendants.

In Monday's session when the verdicts and sentences were read, security forces barred defense lawyers from attending, one of the lawyers, Yasser Zidan, told The Associated Press.

''This is way over the top and unacceptable,'' said attorney Mohammed Zarie, who heads a rights center in Cairo. ''It turns the judiciary in Egypt from a tool for achieving justice to an instrument for taking revenge.''

''This verdict could be a precedent both in the history of Egyptian courts and perhaps, tribunals elsewhere in the world,'' he added.

All but around 150 of the defendants in the case were tried in absentia by the court in the city of Minya, south of Cairo.

The judges acquitted 16 defendants.

Egypt has seen a string of mass trials of Morsi supporters in recent weeks, usually over charges of violence in connection to Islamist protests against Morsi's removal and the crackdown.

The 545 defendants in the case were charged with murder, attempted murder and stealing government weapons in connection with an attack on a police station in August in the town of Matay in Minya province.

One police officer was killed in the attack.

The violence was part of rioting around the country sparked when security forces stormed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, killing hundreds of people on Aug. 14.

During the first session on Saturday, defense lawyer Khaled el-Koumi said that he and other lawyers asked the presiding judge, Said Youssef, to postpone the case to give them time to review the hundreds of documents in the case, but the request was declined. When another lawyer made a request, the judge interrupted and refused to recognise it.

When the lawyers protested, Youssef shouted that they would not dictate what he should do and ordered court security to step in between him and the lawyers.

A security official in the courtroom said the defendants and the lawyers disrupted the proceedings by chanting against the judge: ''God is our only refuge!''

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

''We didn't have the chance to say a word, to look at more than 3,000 pages of investigation and to see what evidence they are talking about,'' el-Koumi, who was representing 10 of the defendants, told The Associated Press.

A senior Brotherhood figure, Ibrahim Moneir, denounced the verdicts, warning that abuses of justice will fuel a backlash against the military-backed government that replaced Morsi.

''Now the coup is hanging itself by these void measures,'' he said, speaking to the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr TV station.

He said he believed the verdicts were timed to send a message to an Arab League summit that begins Tuesday in Kuwait, where Egypt is pressing other Arab governments to ban the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, another mass trial against Morsi's supporters opens in a Minya court with 683 suspects facing similar charges.

The defendants in that case include Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who also faces multiple other trials, and senior members of the group from Minya province.

Egypt's military toppled Morsi in July after four days of massive demonstrations by his opponents demanding he step down for abusing power during his year in office.

Since then, Morsi's Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters have staged near-daily demonstrations that usually descend into violent street confrontations with security forces.

The military-backed government has arrested some 16,000 people in the ensuing crackdown, including most of the Brotherhood leadership.

At the same time, militant bombings, suicide attacks and other assaults, mostly by an al Qaeda-inspired group, have increased, targeting police and military forces in retaliation for the crackdown.

The authorities have blamed the Brotherhood for the violence, branding it a terrorist organisation and confiscating its assets.

The group has denied any links to the attacks and has denounced the violence.


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Comments (18) Closed




Mansoor
Mar 24, 2014 03:38pm

To kill one policeman 545 sentenced to death. Justice denied to 546 people.

Tahir
Mar 24, 2014 06:10pm

What a deafening silence? Where are all the guderians of democracy? Nobody is bothered about the human rights anymore? A democratically elected government is toppled through a military coup and the whole world is a silent spectator!!!!

M. Saeed Awan
Mar 24, 2014 06:37pm

Totally condemn and feel it barbaric act if fair trail is not met.

Goga Nalaik
Mar 24, 2014 07:21pm

Saudi Rials and US dolars are also flooding in there ... A democratically elected government has been rejected by force by their army. Saudi Arabia has put the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood party on the list of terrorist organization as well as Hizb Allah from Lebanon! Fresh news of this morning : Saudi Arabia has even banned books that recount history the Palestine and its people. Saudia is about to black list Hamas as well.

jaan marri
Mar 24, 2014 08:11pm

@Tahir: when Taliban killed 23 soldiers of pakistan, how many pakistanis screamed, people are numb and more so if it happens in Muslim countries more silence because it was their doing

NASAH (USA)
Mar 24, 2014 08:54pm

Is this some kind of genocide?

m5
Mar 24, 2014 09:50pm

This is not justice. This is extreme tyranny of the Al-Sissi regime. Al-Sissi has become a Field Marshal by toppling an elected Egyptian government and over running the fields of his own country. Now he is terrorizing the public through these kangaroo. He needs to remember that while he may be successful on a temporary basis in inflicting his tyranny but he would face its dire consequences in this world and there after (in Akhira) Insha Allah!

Anwar Amjad
Mar 24, 2014 09:55pm

This can only be a mass murder and not a court verdict.

Sandeep
Mar 24, 2014 10:17pm

Good riddance of terrorists. Morsi -he was going to pass a bill which would have taken away all the powers from the minorities. Good make the country secular and free - Egypt is a world asset, once these fundamentalist will come in power they might do the same thing to the pyramids as they did to Bamiyan Buddhas.

Wali
Mar 24, 2014 10:18pm

Amazing! Jamat Islami isn't on streets to burn Saudi flags... Oh sorry I forgot these r tried by Egyptian military supported by Saudis not Americans...

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali
Mar 24, 2014 10:26pm

529 intellectuals sentenced to death for on policeman death. How is it possible that 529 people collectively killed one police officer. How many were killed by Mubarak and his sons. I wonder about the deafening attitude of world human right crusaders,who say nothing about this trial. The worst thing Egyptian can do is, to do nothing to stop this madness.

vin
Mar 24, 2014 10:51pm

@Tahir: If world will do anything you will accuse west of interference, bring sovereignty and say west is fighting war against islam. So help yourself.

wizarat
Mar 25, 2014 12:28am

Only 529 were detained and tried, how was it that 545 were sentenced. Moreover this is the Saudi justice, just wondering what the $1.5 billion would do for Pakistan Judiciary It is a SHAME; and Egyptians probably claim themselves to be Muslims too.

Maybe SISI also wants to be Amirul Momineen just like you know who.

Haider
Mar 25, 2014 01:03am

Suadi dirty $$$$$$$$$$$billion is speaking very loud and clear in Egypt and now I wonder how soon our Jinnah's beautiful green flag will be changed into some Arabic Jibresh or calligraphy, After all Sharif bandits have accepted $1.5 Billion in exchange to something.........

omer khan shaheen
Mar 25, 2014 01:47am

"O-I-C" mass murder, do you?

Mansoor Ahmed
Mar 25, 2014 07:07am

It has reminded me the tyrant Zia regime in Pakistan. He would also use the courts for terrorising his opponents. We noticed that Saudi, world community and human rights activists paid no heed to it, but Allah almighty showed His anger by burning the tyrant alive in the air.

Yaqub Ehsan
Mar 25, 2014 09:57am

When Mubarak was being ousted I was saying to people nothing will change. Egypt is 50 years behind Pakistan. We already did all these things in Pakistan 50 years ago. We threw out one bad government after another and we got nowhere - so I was sure the same thing will be repeated in Egypt. Now, unfortunately, I was right. Same people are back in power.

Israr_ahmed
Mar 25, 2014 11:31pm

Winning of islamic parties in elections or rights of women to wear islamic dresses, can cause a huge blindness and deafness on most of the world.