Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) confirms that the Egyptian authorities’ recent execution of seven political detainees constitutes the murder of innocent citizens. The executions follow a series of entirely political rulings from a judicial system that is being used by the Egyptian regime to liquidate its opponents.
On Tuesday 8 March 2022, Egyptian authorities executed 4 of the defendants involved in the so-called “Helwan Microbus Cell” case. They are: Abdullah Muhammad Shukri, Mahmoud Muhammad Abd al-Tawab, Mahmoud Abd al-Hamid Ahmad al-Gunaidi, and Ahmed Salama Ali.
Three others involved in a separate case – Bilal Ibrahim Sobhi Farhat, Muhammad Hassan Ezzedine Muhammad Hassan, and Taj al-Din Mu’nis Muhammad Hamida – were executed on Thursday 10 March. 10 other detainees involved in the same case, No. 1187, were executed on 3 October 2020.
As part of the “Helwan Bus” case, 32 people were referred to a criminal court in February 2017. They were all accused of establishing an illegal group between 2015 and 2016, and of carrying out a number of terrorist acts.
The Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced the defendants’ arrest in 2016 and reported having made a number of charges against them before an investigation had begun and that it was instead relying on the anonymous testimony of security officers.
None of the prosecution’s witnesses were able to identify any of the accused, and none of the material evidence suggested their having a link to any crime. Despite these legal flaws, on 13 April 2021, 4 defendants were sentenced to the death penalty, and 14 others to harsh prison terms.
AOHR UK underlines that both cases involved numerous violations, including the subjection of all of the victims to enforced disappearance, and to bouts of severe physical and psychological torture in order to coerce confessions from them.
The majority of those arrested were subjected to the prosecution’s initial investigation without the presence of a lawyer. The place and date of their arrests were kept from their families, despite immediate requests directed to the relevant authorities.
AOHR UK points to the fact that the public prosecutor’s office, the criminal court, and the court of cassation all ignored the detainees’ allegations of being tortured whilst held in a security force’s headquarters. Not a single investigation has been opened into these alleged crimes, as is required under Egyptian law.
With the execution of those seven detainees, the number of executions has risen to 100, with 90 people awaiting execution, and a further 878 detainees having been given a preliminary death sentence.
AOHR UK, therefore, calls the international community, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and those UN special rapporteurs concerned with judicial independence and extrajudicial killings to take serious measures to pressure the Egyptian authorities to immediately and permanently halt the implementation of the death penalty, and thereby save dozens – and potentially hundreds – of lives from a judicial system whose independence from the regime has entirely collapsed.