EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: MDE 12/03/94
UA 65/94 Death Penalty / Legal Concern 21 February 1994
EGYPT Medhat TAHHAWI
Mohammad Ahmed Sa'id SALIH
Hammada Mohammad LUTFI (sentenced in absentia)
According to foreign press reports the three men named above were sentenced
to death last week, following a military trial held in secret. The official
Egyptian media has so far released no information about the case. Medhat
Tahhawi and Mohammad Ahmed Sa'id Salih are believed to be members of the armed
forces. Hammada Mohammad Lutfi, a civilian, was sentenced in absentia. Three
others reportedly received prison sentences.
The six, allegedly members of an armed Islamist opposition group, al-Gama'a
al-Islamiya, were reportedly accused of planning the assassination of President
Mubarak, and were tried in secret by a military court at the military barracks
in Sidi Barrani, close to the Libyan border. Their trial reportedly began on
30 January. If these reports are true, the two men could be executed within
weeks if their sentences are upheld.
During the last 20 months politically motivated acts of violence by armed
opposition groups have escalated sharply in Egypt. Islamic militant groups
have committed deliberate and arbitrary killings, which Amnesty International
has condemned. Victims have included a writer known for his secularist views,
Copts, tourists, government officials and many police and prison officers.
The three people named above were sentenced to death by a military court. No
information is available regarding the actual proceedings. The trial appears
to have taken place in secret. The death sentences are subject to ratification
by the President of the Republic, and then review by the Military Appeals'
Bureau, also headed by the President of the Republic. Such procedures fall
far short of international standards for fair trial, as guaranteed by Article
14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt
is a state party, which guarantee that everyone who is convicted shall have
the right to their conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal.
The United Nations' Economic and Social Council has urged that these rights
be respected in all cases involving the death penalty.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Arabic, French, English or in your own language:
- expressing concern at reports that Medhat Tahhawi, Mohammad Ahmed Sa'id Salih
and Hammada Mohammad Lutfi have been sentenced to death after an unfair trial
held in secret, and urging that the President use his constitutional right
to grant clemency and commute these and all other pending death sentences;
if these men are executed, Amnesty International will consider them summary
and arbitrary executions;
- expressing concern at the sudden upsurge in the use of the death penalty
in Egypt (42 death sentences have been passed by military courts since December
1992 and 28 executions have now taken place), and explaining Amnesty
International's opposition to the death penalty as a violation of the right
to life and the most extreme form of cruel and inhuman punishment;
- drawing attention to world trends to abolish or reduce the use of the death