Egypt Court Sentences 75 to Death Over Deadly 2013 Protests

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 75 people to death, including leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, for their involvement in a 2013 sit-in protest in Cairo that spiraled into violence and resulted in the death of hundreds of demonstrators by security forces.

Cairo Criminal Court was considering the case of 739 people facing charges ranging from killing police officers, incitement to violence and damaging property during the 2013 violence in Rabaa al-Adawiya, a square in Cairo. Forty-seven people, including the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, were sentenced to life in prison.

The mass trial has been widely condemned by human rights organizations, with Amnesty International calling it a “grotesque parody of justice.”

Mahmoud Abou Zeid, a photojournalist known as Shawkan who was detained for photographing the antigovernment protests, was sentenced to five years in prison. Because he has been held since his arrest, time served will be counted toward his sentence and he is to be released. He faces five more years of probation, however.

An independent international jury selected him this year as the laureate of the Unesco/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, which honors a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to press freedom.

The Egyptian government criticized the decision, with the Foreign Ministry noting that the photojournalist had been accused of “terrorism and criminal offenses.”

“We warn against the politicization of Unesco and its involvement in the implementation of the agenda of certain countries, while drifting away from its cultural mission,” the ministry said in a statement.

Egypt has held a string of mass trials over the past few years that have signaled the judiciary’s energetic support for the government’s crackdown on dissent since the military ouster of Mr. Morsi. The sentences have often been overturned during the appeals process.

In March 2014, 529 people were sentenced to death in the Egyptian town of Matay over the killing of a police officer, a sign of the acceleration of a crackdown against Islamist supporters of Mr. Morsi. In April 2014, a court in Minya, a provincial capital, sentenced to death more than 680 people over the killing of one police officer. Those cases were successfully appealed.

In December that year, a court in Giza issued a death sentence to 188 people charged in the killing of 11 police officers during an attack on a police station in the town of Kardasa in August 2013. While the case was appealed, the death sentence of nearly two dozen people was upheld.

Those who had hoped that Mr. Sisi’s victory in the presidential election in March this year — he won 97 percent of votes, running virtually unopposed — would lead to a softening of the crackdown on dissent have expressed disappointment.

Source Link