Egypt: Brotherhood's Badie among mass death sentences

 

Orla Guerin in Minya: " There are extraordinary scenes of grief and anger"

A judge at a mass trial in Egypt has recommended the death penalty for 683 people - including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie.

The defendants faced charges over an attack on a police station in Minya in 2013 in which a policeman was killed.

However, the judge also commuted to life terms 492 death sentences out of 529 passed in March in a separate case.

Also on Monday, a court banned a youth group that helped ignite the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The decision passed in Cairo to outlaw the April 6 pro-democracy movement was based on a complaint that accused the group of "tarnishing the image" of Egypt and colluding with foreign parties.

At the scene

The verdict hit waiting relatives like a body blow. Several women collapsed on the ground, and had to be carried away. Others clustered together in their grief, some holding photos of their loved one. A man stood weeping in front of a line of riot police, protesting that his brother was an innocent man.

One woman told us her 15-year-old son was among the almost 700 men who received a preliminary death sentence.

Confusion added to the torment for those whose loved ones were among 529 men in a separate mass trial in which 37 life sentences were upheld, and the rest commuted to life imprisonment.

In the chaos outside the court relatives could not find out which men had been condemned to hang. One woman told us her son - who died three years ago - had been convicted in the case.

Ahmed Maher, the group's leader, was sentenced to three years in prison in December for violating a law that bans all but police-sanctioned protests.

'Where is the justice?'

The cases and speed of the mass trial hearings have drawn widespread criticism from human rights groups and the UN.

The trials took just hours each and the court prevented defence lawyers from presenting their case, according to Human Right Watch.

The sentences have been referred to the Grand Mufti - Egypt's top Islamic authority - for approval or rejection, a step which correspondents say is usually considered a formality. A final decision will be issued in June.

The BBC's Orla Guerin says relatives collapsed in grief after hearing the verdict. A large crowd chanted: "Where is the justice?"

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, bottom centre, and senior Brotherhood figurer Salah Soltan, right, in a courtroom in Cairo, Egypt - 1 April 2014 Mohammed Badie, centre, was arrested last August after a month on the run

Authorities have cracked down harshly on Islamists since President Mohammed Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, was removed by the military in July.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested.

The verdict was the first against Mr Badie in the several trials he faces on various charges along with Mr Morsi himself and other Brotherhood leaders.

'Farcical'

Of the 683 sentenced on Monday, only about 50 are in detention but the others have a right to a retrial if they hand themselves in.

The group were accused of involvement in the murder and attempted murder of policemen in Minya province on 14 August, the day police killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in clashes in Cairo.

Defence lawyers boycotted the last session, branding it "farcical."

Egyptians mourn after a judge sentenced hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death at a mass trial in Minya, Egypt - April 28, 2014. Families outside the court were not told who of the 529 sentenced in March faced the death penalty

The final judgement on the sentencing of the 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters accused of attacking another police station in the same province on the same day means 37 will now face the death penalty.

Defence lawyer Khaled Elkomy said 60% of those defendants, including teachers and doctors, have evidence that "proves they were not present" when that station was attacked, a statement released by human rights group Avaaz said.

Amnesty International warned that Egypt's judiciary "risks becoming just another part of the authorities' repressive machinery".

"The court has displayed a complete contempt for the most basic principles of a fair trial and has utterly destroyed its credibility," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the group's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said in a statement.

Demonstrators shout slogans against the government and Egypt's former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi near El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, April 26, 2014 Protests against the military-backed government have continued despite the crackdown

The government had defended the court's handling of the first mass case, insisting that the sentences were passed only "after careful study."

At least 1,000 opponents of the military-installed regime have been sentenced since December.

The authorities have designated the Brotherhood a terrorist group, blaming it for a series of bombings and attacks. The group has strongly denied the accusations.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 783.

    @764
    The life of one innocent police officer is certainly worth more than the lives of 650 brainwashed loons,

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 782.

    This should work as a reminder to all terrorists that fight fire with fire and their bullying and thuggish behaviour was not going to prevail. Also I would be grateful if the West , their biased organisations such as human rights and their politically driven media stay out of this and not act like small kitten crying over the spilled milk, your jails are full despite all the benefits you pay!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 781.

    I wonder how much the beeb have made in advertising revenue from letting us discuss Egypt today?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 780.

    267.Ali
    99% of the comments are based on pure IGNORANCE. Ignorance about what actually happened in Egypt that led to the out throw of Morsi.
    --
    Wrong on every count mate.
    Most comments are based on disinterest.

    The West is dogtired of the way these countries behave to us, each other and to their own people.

    Saudi?
    Jordan?
    Pakistan?
    You listening?

    This is not our problem.
    It's yours.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 779.

    Its at times like these, that I am Glad I have not fell for the deluded propaganda from the likes of Amnesty International etc. I can sit here safe in the knowledge that occasionally good old fashioned justice can be served, well done Egypt.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 778.

    Just a quick situation review...a group of individuals infamous for their belief-set that compels them to carry out acts of brutal violence against young school girls (bullet to head) stoning of women,lynching/bombing/de-capitation of opponents/non-believers and fanatical hatred of all/any religion other than their own are sentenced to death by their own judicial system....AND ????

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 777.

    Last time there was such emotion on show in public by a crowd of unaccompanied females was 9/11. There is nothing we can, should, could or would do that might be an improvement, so time to move on as there is nothing to see and we should not intrude into the grief of these families, especially if the Death Penalties are enacted. No International Pressure, it did no good for President Bhutto

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 776.

    760. MitorTheBold

    These are examples of what Islam is about.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10784579/Barefoot-bus-passenger-shocked-by-strangers-shoe-donation.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/20/bradford-synagogue-saved-muslims-jews

    The terrorists hiding behind Islam are trying gain power by cherry-picking the scriptures. Clerics always have done this.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 775.

    752. Phil
    I suggest you check on the deterioration of US Egyptian relations since the removal of the Brotherhood, and see some of the anti Obama messages in public demonstrations obviously supported by the military. Sorry, all this 'we' stuff, blaming the UK and US is factually incorrect. Obama wanted the Brotherhood, and resisted appeals to interfere with their persecution of minorities..

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 774.

    "ProfPhoenix
    Sensible sentences issued under Egyptian law"

    I expect you think Judge Jeffreys was a moderate and lenient judge then! Fortunately in that case within 3 years a coup d'etat brought in constitutional government, a Bill of Rights and the foundations of democracy. Somehow I think it'll take longer in Egypt.

  • Comment number 773.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 772.

    Real justice, if only this country could learn from this

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 771.

    In developing countries with fragile economies and new found freedom of expression democracy is a wonderful thing, as long as the person you voted for wins, failing which it must have been fixed and then demonstrate for new elections. Maybe democracy or the Wests version of it is not the ideal scenario for all countries.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 770.

    I'm no MB supporter, but am I the only one slightly alarmed by the increasing frequency of these mass death sentences? The idiom "One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic" comes to mind.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 769.

    Really disgraceful the BBC and UK Government should be doing more to highlight this it is turning into ethnic cleansing . The UK Government should bring sanctions on Egypt,

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 768.

    Sensible sentences issued under Egyptian law, not old colonialist Britain. Heavy moderation here resembles the moderation of posts warning about Brotherhood excesses during the early days of the Arab Spring. You got it wrong then BBC and still shilling for the Brotherhood, you are wrong again. Leave Egyptians alone; they are dealing with a problem that BBC and western interference has not helped.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 767.

    Time Egypt should behave like living in the year 2014- your are not going to get many new friend- if you still run your country like in the Middle Ages.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 766.

    I'm nearly certain it was announced that the Brotherhood was given the status as a terrorist group and as such any members would be terrorists. They were warned so anyone later caught knew what the consequences would be.

    I only wish we had the same punishments for those considered terrorists and enemies of the state.

    Hang 'em high !!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 765.

    This mass execution is reminiscent of the European dictatorships of the last century. In this case extreme Islamists are to have their lives ended by a moderate Muslim government. It isn't a consequence of Islamic thinking. This is the result of an insecure government desperately trying to wipe out or intimidate the opposition. Repeatedly we've seen this in secular, Christian and Muslim cultures.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 764.

    I am confused and I wonder what would be your reaction If these hash sentences took place in your democratic countries.bethink that the accusations were right however the sentences are too illogical,too biased and unjust how on earth that the alleged killing of one police officer resulting in the killing of more than 650 people-may be all of them are innocent.where are the human rights entities

 

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