Death sentences for Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt

Death sentences for Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt
Fourteen members of the Brotherhood have had their death sentences sent to Egypt's grand mufti for approval.
2 min read
17 March, 2015
Badie, already in prison, has been sentenced to death [Getty]

Human rights groups have widely condemned death sentences issued by two Egyptian courts against anti-regime dissidents in Egypt.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, criticised the courts' decisions.

"Who cares if Egypt's courts impose mass death sentences & jail 10,000s. Sisi wants investment," he wrote on Twitter.

Cairo's Criminal Court has referred the death sentences handed out to 14 prisoners to the country's grand mufti for approval. The condemned include the leader of the country's Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, and a member of the group's guidance bureau, Mahmoud Ghozlan. 

The case has become known in Egyptian media as "the Rabia Operations Room". 

The Egyptian Coordinating Committee of Rights and Freedoms (ECCRF), a non-governmental human rights organisation, has launched a campaign named I'dam Watan ["Execution of a Homeland"] that has condemned death sentences issued against 25 prisoners, arguing they are aimed at physically eliminating political opposition.

     The courts' disregard of legal and constitutional standards is increasing daily.
- ECCRF statement

"Despite becoming accustomed to surprising acts by the Egyptian judiciary, the courts' disregard of legal and constitutional standards is increasing daily, especially after it issued an unjust verdict against 12 prisoners and condemned 12 more to death," read a statement issued by the ECCRF campaign.

On Monday, five fresh verdicts were issued that are now awaiting the grand mufti's approval. Only four of these are from Dakahlia governorate, the fifth is linked to "the Rabia Operations Room" case.

A total of 25 cases have been referred to the grand mufti in recent weeks, which suggests courts are only issuing group verdicts, and are disregarding constitutional laws and regulations.

Analysts say this threatens the judicial system by reducing its credibility in the eyes of Egyptians, who have lost faith in its integrity and independence.

Khaled Said, a member of the Salafist Front's coordination committee, said these execution orders "are a form of slow and delayed death, with many having been killed by live ammunition in protests, and many others killed in prisons and detention centres".

The chairman of the Building and Development Party, Tarek al-Zumar, argued that the death sentences were a continuation of the "murderous" policies that the coup government has adopted since it took power.

There are more than 1,180 prisoners who have been sentenced to death that are awaiting to hear their fate.

Last week, Egyptian authorities carried out the death sentence against anti-coup activist Mahmoud Ramadan, who was found guilty in the Alexandria Building case. The sentence was condemned by human rights groups.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.