Egypt's Sisi promises new crackdown and 'rapid justice'

Egypt's Sisi promises new crackdown and 'rapid justice'
President Sisi says he will unveil tough new security policies in the coming days, vowing that death sentences against opponents will be carried out.
3 min read
01 July, 2015
Sisi delivers his speech at Barakat's funeral beside the prosecutor's morning family [EPA]
Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi who led the funeral procession for assassinated Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat on Tuesday in Cairo, gave an emotional televised speech promising “rapid justice” against imprisoned members of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

Sisi said the death sentences and life terms handed down to Brotherhood members, which are going through a lengthy appeals process, will be fast-tracked and the country’s criminal code amended within days to “confront the developments we are facing.”  

In his address at the funeral, al-Sisi said: "The hand of justice is tied by laws ... We will not wait for that. We will not sit for five or 10 years putting on trial the people who kill us."   

The funeral fell on the second anniversary of  the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013 by the army, then under Sisi's leadership. 

Since then, Egyptian courts have handed down death sentences to hundreds of alleged members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi also faces the death penalty.

Sisi did not give details of his plans for the legal changes but said they would be unveiled "within days". 

"A death sentence will be issued, a death sentence will be implemented. A life sentence will be issued, a life sentence will be implemented," he said. 

The full text of Egypt’s anti-terrorism draft law was released the same day with some new previously unprovisions, the most important of which is that the president will now be able to sign off on national security rulings without defendants being granted an appeal.

"The hand of justice is tied by laws"

Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi

This means the executions of the Brotherhood’s leadership, including former president Mohammad Morsi, could be carried out any time after the draft law is ratified. It will be submitted to the Cabinet on Wednesday for approval.

"If a death sentence or a life term is handed down, it will be implemented. We will not wait for years to prosecute militants, who give orders for their deadly attacks from inside their prison cells," Sisi said in his speech.

Since Morsi was ousted in a military coup following mass protests against the Brotherhood, the government has cracked down heavily on his supporters, leaving at least 1,400 people dead and more than 40,000 in custody, according to Human Rights Watch.

Hundreds of the banned group's leadership and supporters have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials, described by the UN as "unprecedented in recent history".

On Monday, Egyptian Attorney General Hisham Barakat was killed after his convoy was bombed in Cairo in an attack that has been blamed on the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood have condemned the killing, calling it a “horrid crime”.

According to al-Ahram, police has arrested a 23-year-old suspect that had posted a Facebook update claiming a pro-Morsi militant group called “Giza Popular Resistance” was responsible for the bomb attack.

In the wake of the Barakat’s assassination many local pundits and social media campaigners have called for the Brotherhood members sentenced to death to be executed as soon as possible in retaliation for Barakat's killing.

Popular talk show host Lamis al-Hadidy said on Monday, “We need to speed up all the outstanding death sentences to avenge the death of Hisham Barakat.”

On Wednesday, a day after the anniversary of the mass protests that led to the military coup against Morsi, at least 80 people were killed when suspected militants staged simultaneous attacks, including a suicide car bombing, on army checkpoints in Northern Sinai.