EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 12/06/97
EXTRA 10/97 Death Penalty 28 January 1997
EGYPT'Atef Ibrahim Mohammad
Mohammad Sayyid Rabi'
'Uwais Mohammad 'Abd al-Gawwad
On 20 January 1997 the Giza criminal court sentenced to death 'Atef Ibrahim
Mohammad and Mohammad Sayyid Rabi', both labourers, after finding them guilty
of murder. Their sentences have now been ratified by the Mufti, the highest
religious authority in the country.
On 21 January the Mufti also ratified the death sentence handed down in a previous
year on 'Uwais Mohammad 'Abd al-Gawwad. He had been found guilty by the Giza
criminal court of a murder committed in 1990.
The death sentences handed down on the three men will now be passed on to the
President of the Republic or his nominee for ratification. Amnesty
International fears that they may be executed within weeks if their sentences
The death penalty is applied in Egypt for criminal offences such as drug use
or trafficking and murder. Dozens of people have been sentenced to death in
Egypt for such crimes in the last few years. It is also applied for offences
related to "terrorism". The death penalty has been increasingly used in such
cases since President Hosni Mubarak began issuing special decrees referring
civilians to be tried by military courts in October 1992. 74 death sentences
have been passed by military courts since that date and 54 executions have
been carried out.
Death sentences in criminal cases are submitted to the Mufti for approval.
This is a routine measure, as he approves the vast majority of them. They
are then passed on to the President or his nominee for ratification. Final
verdicts by criminal courts can be appealed against before the Court of Cassation
only when it can be proved that there were procedural irregularities in the
trial. The death sentences issued by military courts 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.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/express or airmail letters
in Arabic, English, French or your own language:
- expressing concern that the three people named above have been sentenced
to death and that their sentences have been ratified by the Mufti;
- urging the President to use his constitutional powers to grant clemency and
commute these and all other pending death sentences;
- explaining your opposition to the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life and the most extreme form of cruel and inhuman punishment;
If possible, also:
- acknowledging the seriousness of the crimes for which the three men were
convicted, and the right of governments to bring criminals to justice, but
pointing out that there is no evidence that the death penalty is an effective
deterrent to such crimes;
- expressing concern at the upsurge in the use of the death penalty in Egypt,
and drawing attention to world trends to abolish or reduce the use of the death