After the end of a two-day trial in Egypt yesterday, another 529 supporters of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi had been sentenced to death, and another trial with another 683 Morsi supporters will begin today. Today’s new trial will include Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leader, along with the other 682 defendants. The defendants will be standing charges for rioting and killing police after a police action which killed protesters by the hundreds.
Today’s trial will take place in the same Minya court in the Matay district, the district in which protestors rioted, set fire to a police station, and killed the deputy commander of the station. In custody are 60 defendants, while the remaining 623 will be tried in absentia. The defense lawyers boycotted the court session while complaining that the judge allowed irregularities in the previous trial. Lawyers indicate that they were unable to present the case for defense.
Yesterday’s trial ended with a group conviction of 529 defendants in what has been named the largest mass sentencing in modern Egypt. A defense counsel for the trial has charged that the sentencing was rushed due to the anger of the judge. The judge had apparently been angered by a request for recusal at the beginning of the trial. Mohamed Tousson, the lawyer making the charges, says that there was a huge violation of the defendants’ rights due to the speedy mass verdict handed down yesterday. Today’s trial in Egypt will see another 683 Morsi supporters put to trial in what defense lawyers hope is not a repeat of the weekend trial.
Amnesty International has not only questioned yesterday’s mass sentencing, they have called for those verdicts to be quashed. A spokesperson for the human rights group said it was not only the largest mass death sentence to be seen in recent years in Egypt, but for anywhere in the world. The foreign ministry says that the sentences were just and support the manner in which the court handled the trial. They indicate that the sentences were issued after careful consideration.
The deputy US State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, says that Washington is not only shocked but very concerned with the speed of the trial. While the spokeswoman concedes that the defendants may appeal the verdict, she states that is seems unreasonable to believe that a fair review of both the testimonies and the evidence would have been accomplished given a window of only two days.
Legal expert and head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Gamal Eid stated that the judgement may be appealed through the Court of Cassation. The likely outcome, he said, would be that a new trial would be ordered. Additionally, while 529 defendants were tried and convicted yesterday, only 147 are in custody. As the Egypt court tried the remaining defendants in absentia, they have the right to a retrial should they turn themselves in to authorities. Eid further states that yesterday’s sentencing is not only a travesty but a scandal which will likely affect Egypt for quite some time.
The trial today will put another 683 defendants and Morsi supporters in the same court in Egypt that yesterday convicted and sentenced to death 529. Standing trial with the other 682 defendants will be Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Former president Morsi is also standing trial in three other cases in Egypt. He was president in Egypt for a single year.
By Dee Mueller