Egypt has passed the death sentence on democracy

Egypt has passed the death sentence on democracy
Comment: The military regime buried democracy and the international community was willing to look the other way, says Teresa Mayr.
3 min read
19 May, 2015
Morsi and his co-defendants all received death sentences [Getty]
Democracy in Egypt is dead and buried. It has been buried by a regime consolidating its control over the country through oppression and an unjust judiciary.

The revolutions that swept through North Africa, deposing long-term autocrats like Hosni Mubarak seized the world's imagination.

The international community should again once again pay attention to Egypt.

Over the last year more than a thousand people have been sentenced to death in Egypt. Many sentences were passed during mass trials of people accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Over the last year more than a thousand people have been sentenced to death in Egypt.

Last Saturday, the former president Mohamed Morsi and scores of co-defendants were sentenced to death for an alleged prison break and on charges of espionage.

Co-defendants belonged to the Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas movement as and Lebanese Hizballah.

The Cairo Post reported that two of the Hamas members were already dead. Another one has reportedly already spent 19 years in an Israeli prison, where he was at the time of the alleged crime.

Emad Shahin, a visiting professor of political science at Georgetown University, is also among those convicted. He was tried in absentia and accused under the "Grand Espionage" case.

In a statement released on his website, Shahin rejected all charges made against him and underlined that he was not the only victim of injustice.

He calls these sentences "yet another manifestation of the deeply troubling way the Egyptian judiciary has been used as a tool to settle political disagreements by the harshest and most repressive means possible".

The decision by the court has yet to be reviewed by Egypt's Grand Mufti, which will happen on 2 June. After that the convicts will have the possibility to appeal their verdicts.

The sentence has already been condemned by the human rights organisation Amnesty International. The organisation called the trial "grossly unfair" and said it shows "the deplorable state of the country's criminal justice system".

The EU on trial

In a recently released statement, Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign affairs representative, criticised the death penalty and capital punishment.

Her statement said the death sentence issued against Morsi "was not in line with Egypt's obligations under international law", but failed to mention that the whole trial was a farce. The EU remains hopeful the sentence will be revised during the appeal process. However, the statement fails to outright condemn the trial.

Others walk free

The current regime is simply a more military-strong version of Mubarak-era authoritarianism.
Kevin Lees, lawyer and journalist

While Morsi and other political opponents are imprisoned and sentenced to death, others like Mubarak, Egypt's autocrat for 30 year long years, walks free.

Mubarak, who was toppled by the revolution in 2011 - was sentenced to three years in jail, but will reportedly walk free as he has already spent the time in custody at Maadi military hospital.

He was convicted with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, for corruption. As Mada Masr reported in January, the money was used for the construction of private property.

Amnesty International's annual report on Egypt states that between July 2013, when Morsi was ousted by the military and the end of 2014, more than 1,400 people were killed during protests, the vast majority of them by security forces.

At least 16,000 have been arrested, according to the AP news agency, while other sources estimate more than 40,000 detentions.

In an article in the Huffington Post, Kevin Lees, a Washington lawyer and journalist, described the situation in January 2014, after Mubarak was cleared of all criminal charges for vcivilian deaths in the 2011 revolution, as "simply a more military-strong version of Mubarak-era authoritarianism".

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.