Egypt: Eight men sentenced to death await final verdict following military retrial

Published March 13th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
Egypt’s High Court in downtown Cairo on January 1, 2015. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
Egypt’s High Court in downtown Cairo on January 1, 2015. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

The West Cairo Military Court adjourned on Sunday issuing the verdict in the case publicly known as the "specialised intelligence committee" case to 3 April.

The court initially referred the files of eight of the defendants to the grand mufti, a procedural step prior to approving final death sentences, on 7 February. The court said Sunday that the mufti has not yet affirmed his judgment on the case.

The eight defendants were sentenced as part of a larger trial wherein 28 defendants are charged with planning to assassinate army personnel, sabotaging electrical and communication infrastructure, and operating under the auspices of the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the prosecution.

Rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baker told Daily News Egypt that the delay of the mufti's opinion on the sentences is not irregular, noting that this judgement is of a consultative nature and not binding to the court.

Some of the defendants in the case were considered by rights groups and activists as having been "forcibly disappeared" before been shown in a video released by the Ministry of Defence in July 2015 confessing to membership in an extremist network and claiming responsibility for attacks on state facilities and personnel.

Among the eight set to be sentenced to death, there are defendants as young as 19-year-old engineering student Abdel Basseer Abdel Raouf.

Campaigners in solidarity with Abdel Raouf and other defendants liken the case to the military trial of the Arab Sharkas Cell, in which the defendants were accused of killing soldiers during a military raid on the village of Arab Sharkas in March 2014.

Despite evidence suggesting that the men had already been placed under arrest before the purported attacks, the six men were sentenced to death and were executed last May, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Egyptian state's practice of prosecuting civilians in military courts has been widely criticised by human rights advocates, especially after the state began to increasingly target university students.

By Mahmoud Mostafa

© 2019 Daily News Egypt.

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