529 death sentences in Egypt’s two-day trial defy logic: US


The United States has expressed shock over 529 death sentences handed down by a court in Egypt in a trial that lasted only two sessions, saying the trial defies logic.

In the largest capital punishment case on record in Egypt, a court in the Nile Valley city of Minya sentenced 529 alleged supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi to death on Monday after a two-day trial on charges of killing one police officer, the attempted murder of two others, and attacking a police station in Minya in August last year.

In response, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “We are deeply concerned — and, I would say, actually pretty shocked — by the sentencing to death of 529 Egyptians related to the death of one policeman.”

“Obviously the defendants can appeal, but it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony consistent with international standards could be accomplished with over 529 defendants in a two-day trial,” Harf said. “It sort of defies logic.”

“We continue to call on the Egyptian government to ensure that all those detained in Egypt are afforded fair proceedings that respect civil liberties and due process and are consistent with international standards. The law must be applied equitably and free of political bias,” the US State Department official said.

“We have said many times that even the appearance of politically-motivated arrests, detentions, and convictions will set Egypt’s transition back,” the official added.

The Egyptians launched a revolution against the pro-US regime of former President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011, which eventually ended the 30-year dictatorship of Mubarak in February 2011.

In June 2012, Egyptians voted in the country’s first free and fair presidential election, electing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi as their leader.

But about a year later, the Egyptian army toppled Morsi, suspended the constitution and launched a violent crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.

On December 25, 2013, the military-appointed government listed the Brotherhood as a “terrorist” organization over alleged involvement in a deadly bombing, without investigating or providing any evidence.

In January 2014, Amnesty International criticized Egyptian authorities for using an “unprecedented scale” of violence against protesters and dealing “a series of damaging blows to human rights.”

According to the UK-based rights group, at least 1,400 people have been killed in the political violence since Morsi’s ouster in July 2013, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces.”