UN slams mass Muslim Brotherhood death sentence

Published March 25th, 2014 - 02:13 GMT

The United Nations on Tuesday slammed an Egyptian court’s decision to sentence 529 Muslim Brotherhood to death, saying that it contravened international law.

Human rights campaigners and lawyers expressed concern for the thousands of other Brotherhood members in Egypt who face the same charges, as they described Monday’s ruling as the largest mass death penalty handed out in Egypt’s modern history, Reuters reported.

Just one day after Monday’s controversial decision, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 others went on trial in the same court in Minya, southern Egypt.

"The mass imposition of the death penalty after a trial rife with procedural irregularities is in breach of international human rights law," U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said at a news briefing in Geneva, Reuters reported.

"A mass trial of 529 people conducted over just two days cannot possibly have met even the most basic requirements for a fair trial," he added, noting that nearly 400 of the defendants were tried in absentia as there was not sufficient space in the courtroom.

The exact charges against each of the 529 defendants was unclear, Reuters reported, as not all charges were read out in court and not all those being tried had a lawyer, according to Colville.

Speaking out against the trial shortly after the death sentence was handed over, defence lawyers claimed that during the short proceedings, they did not have proper access to their clients and the courts would not consider their evidence seriously.

 "It is particularly worrying that there are thousands of other defendants who have been detained since last July on similar charges. The Minya criminal court in southern Egypt is today trying more than 600 individuals for membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, among other charges," Colville added, according to Reuters.

The lawyers of Monday’s defendants said they would be appealing the decision.

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