Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1243, (23 - 29 April 2015)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1243, (23 - 29 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Life, and death

There is no let-up in the severity of sentences issued against Brotherhood leaders, writes Amany Maged

Al-Ahram Weekly

Another round of rulings in Egyptian courts sees Muslim Brotherhood members sentenced to life imprisonment and, in some cases, death.

Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 13 others received death sentences on Monday in what has come to be known as the Rabaa operation room case.

The following day a Cairo court handed stiff prison sentences to former president Mohamed Morsi and his senior aides.

The court sentenced Morsi, Essam Al-Erian, Mohamed Al-Beltagui and Asaad Al-Shaykhah to 20 years in a case involving the detention and torture of protestors opposed to Brotherhood rule outside the Ittihadiya  Palace.

Meanwhile, acts of sabotage continued across Egypt. Unknown perpetrators blew up an electricity pylon in Kafr Al-Dawar, a city in the Beheira Governorate, bringing traffic to a halt on the Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road. Gunmen also attacked army checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid in Sinai, claiming several casualties.

The Muslim Brotherhood Legal Committee reacted quickly to the handing down of death and prison sentences, saying it will challenge them in higher courts.

Morsi’s official Facebook page released a 3-minute video showing parts of his last speech as president as the court was sentencing him on Tuesday.

Mohamed Badie appeared in court wearing the red suit designated for convicts already on the death row. Of his 13 co-defendants who received death sentences in the Rabaa operation room case 11 -- Hossam Abu Bakr, Mustafa Al-Ghoneimi, Saad Al-Husseini, Walid Abdel-Raouf, Salah Sultan, Omar Ezzeddin, Mohamed Al-Mohammadi, Fathi Ibrahim, Salah Shehabeddin, Mahmoud Al-Barbari, and Abdel Rahim Mohamed -- are in custody. Two others, Mahmoud Ghozlan and Saad Emara, were sentenced in absentia.

Brotherhood supporters vow they will contest the rulings. Hassan Malek, a leading Muslim Brotherhood businessman, has promised to appeal the death sentence handed down to his son. Khairat Al-Shater’s family has also begun a campaign to contest the prison sentence handed to his son, Saad Al-Shater, in the same case.

In all, the court passed 14 death sentences and 31 sentences of life imprisonment in the Rabaa case.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s defence team also intends to challenge the ruling against Walid Shalabi, an adviser to Badie, while the International Union of Muslims Scholars (IUMS) says it will spearhead an international campaign against the death sentence handed down to Sultan, a member of the IUMS’s board of trustees.

Most of the campaigns launched so far focus on Malek, Sultan, and Al-Shater. Strangely, the sentencing of Badie doesn’t seem to have generated much emotion among the Brotherhood’s supporters.

Khairat Al-Shater’s daughter, Aisha, lashed out at the stiff prison sentence handed down to her brother Hassan.

Official spokesman for the Brotherhood’s defence team Mohamed Al-Damati told journalists that the team will challenge the court rulings as soon as it receives a copy of the verdict.

Badie now has two death sentences against him, one in connection with the Rabaa case, and the other for inciting violence in Minya.

Appeal Court judge Farghali Zanati points out that the death sentences against Badie remain provisional, pending ratification by the Appeals Court and the President of the Republic.

Badie, who has also received prison sentences totalling 104 years, still faces charges in 34 more cases.

Over the past year, Badie and other MB leaders were sentenced in various cases involving acts of violence.

On 24 February the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Badie and his deputy, Khairat Al-Shater, to life in prison in what is known as the guidance office case. Four of their co-defendants were sentenced to death.

Earlier, the Shobra Al-Kheima court sentenced 10 Brotherhood members to death and 37 others to life in prison for their involvement in a confrontation on the Qalyoub main road that took place in July 2013 and which left two dead and 35 injured.

On 21 June 2014 a Minya court sentenced 183 alleged Brotherhood members to death, including Badie.

On 30 April, 2014 the Cairo Criminal Court ordered Badie and 21 Brotherhood members imprisoned for one year for contempt of court during the “prison break” trial. Seven months later the same court passed three-year prison sentences on several Brotherhood leaders for contempt of court, also in connection with the “prison break” trial.

A Giza court passed life sentences on Badie, Safwat Hegazi, Mohamed Al-Beltagui, Essam Al-Erian, Bassem Ouda, Al-Huseini Antar, Essam Ragab and Mohamed Gomaa for their involvement in perpetrating acts of violence in Giza Square.

Judge Mohamed Nagi Shehata now has the distinction of sentencing Badie to death twice. Death sentences in Egypt have to go to the office of the Mufti for review, and though the Mufti’s advice is not binding, his office dismissed on of Shehata’s sentences.

Human Rights Watch has called the sentences “unfair” and “politically motivated”. Some observers fear the sentences may spark off yet another round of violence by Brotherhood sympathisers.

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