Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) says that the death sentences announced by an Egyptian court yesterday (Tuesday 13 April) against four prisoners are entirely politically motivated, and themselves criminal.
The defendants were first sentenced on 25 November 2019, Tuesday’s ruling was the last stage of appeal available to the four defendants.
AOHR UK stated that the public prosecutor had referred thirty-two defendants to a criminal court in February 2017, accusing them of being members of a group that, between 2015-2016, carried out a number of “terrorist” acts, and generally breaching peace and security. This year, twenty have been convicted – having spent over five years imprisoned.
As with all such cases in Egypt, the AOHR UK calls attention to authorities’ numerous legal breaches and violations whilst prosecuting the case. All detainees report severe torture; all report that they were interrogated without lawyers, as part of their extra-judicial disappearance.
Despite defendants’ statements to the courts concerning their treatment whilst detained, including allegations of torture, no investigation has been opened.
The Ministry of the Interior announced the defendants’ arrest in 2016 and strongly suggested their guilt, despite the allegations having not been tested in court. AHOR UK highlights that none of the prosecution’s witnesses could identify the defendants in connection to their alleged crime; that the authorities appear to have planted evidence; and that a key figure in the prosecution’s narrative was himself killed by the security services in June 2016 during his arrest.
AOHR UK, therefore, calls on the Secretary-General of the UN and the world’s decision-makers to intervene to halt these death sentences, and all such sentences in Egypt, where 82 await execution by the state.