Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1195, (1-7 May 2014)

Ahram Weekly

‘Death sentence serial’

Amany Maged on the recent court ruling sentencing the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and more than 600 others to death

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Some observers have started to use the phrase “Death Sentence Serial” when referring to the unprecedented number of capital sentences currently being handed down. On Monday the Minya Criminal Court issued a final ruling condemning 37 defendants to death and another 488 to life imprisonment for the murder of the deputy head of the Matai police station in Minya last year. The court had originally sentenced all 528 defendants to death before referring this case to the Grand Mufti. On Monday the same court pronounced death sentences against 683 Muslim Brotherhood members, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, in a case involving rioting in Al-Adawa, Minya.  The ruling has been referred to the Grand Mufti and a final hearing set for 21 June.

Many observers and politicians argue such mass sentencing will only fuel demonstrations and violence. Al-Ahram Weekly provides a scene by scene account of the latest trial.

Scene 1: The tribunal, headed by Judge Said Youssef, arrives at the Minya court complex amid tight security. A thick cordon of guards surround the Minya Criminal Court. There is heavy deployment of armoured Central Security vehicles, bomb squad vehicles and fire engines.Scene 2: Security agencies close off all road access to the court complex using metal barricades placed up to 1,000 metres away from the court buildings. Army units comb the surrounding area and buildings.

Scene 3: The court issues its verdicts in the earlier trial. It sentences 38 defendants to death and 490 to life imprisonment for burning down the Matay police station in Minya, killing the police chief and wounding others. In the second case it recommends the death sentence for all 683 defendants and refers the case to the Grand Mufti. Among the defendants is the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. Final sentencing will take place on 21 June.

Scene 4: After reading out the verdict Judge Said Youssef clarifies that: “The public prosecution may appeal the verdict.” He adds: “The court made two mistakes with this verdict. Firstly, it made a connection between crimes that are unconnected. Secondly, it exercised compassion where it was inappropriate and with persons who did not merit it.”

Scene 5: Screams and wails erupt in front of the metal barricades outside the court complex. Security forces move to expand the security cordon around the court complex by 500 metres with reinforcements taking up positions 1,000 metres away. The police attempt to push the crowds, consisting mainly of the families of the defendants, away from the barricades and into side streets to avert clashes.

Scene 6: A woman, clad in black, is among those outside the court complex. She had been confident that her five sons would be found innocent. When she hears the verdict she screams in shock and disbelief. Family members of the other 38 defendants who were given death sentences are equally stunned.

Scene 7: All media have been barred from entering the Minya court complex. During the trials the press was prevented from attending the hearings. Now signs are posted on the Minya courthouse where the Muslim Brotherhood members are being tried forbidding entrance to journalists, television crews, cameras and mobile phones.

Scene 8: Mohamed Al-Damati, spokesman for the team of lawyers defending Muslim Brotherhood leaders, announces that the defence will be appealing the rulings against the 528 defendants in the case of the attack on the Matay police station.“Even if no one appeals the verdict, the prosecution must refer the ruling to the Court of Cassation which can either accept the appeal or call for a retrial,” he states.

Scene 9: Director of the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights Hafez Abu Seada denounces the verdict and stresses that the accused were given no opportunity to present their defence. The National Council for Human Rights expresses extreme dismay at the verdicts and asks President Adli Mansour to issue an amendment to the penal code guaranteeing the right to appeal sentences issued by the criminal court. Clashes with police break out on Minya, Cairo and Al-Azhar University campuses. Teargas is fired to disperse protesters, many of whom are injured.

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