EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 12/08/97
EXTRA 14/97 Death Penalty 4 February 1997
EGYPTAbu al-Ma'aty Salah Nasr al-Din
Nabiha al-Sayyid 'Ali
Abu al-Ma'aty Salah Nasr al-Din, unemployed, and his wife Nabiha al-Sayyid
'Ali have recently been sentenced to death by the Giza criminal court after
being found guilty of murder. Their sentences have now been ratified by the
Mufti, the highest religious authority in the country.
The Court of Cassation has reviewed the death sentences handed down on the
two individuals. It upheld the verdict against Abu al-Ma'aty Salah Nasr al-Din,
but postponed the verdict regarding his wife's sentence until 22 February.
Once death sentences have been confirmed, executions can be carried out within
a matter of weeks.
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 then and 54 executions have been
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 Abu al-Ma'aty Salah Nasr al-Din and Nabiha al-Sayyid
'Ali have been sentenced to death and that their sentences have been ratified
by the Mufti;
- urging the President to commute these and all other pending death sentences;
- acknowledging the seriousness of the crimes for which the two people were
convicted, but explaining your opposition to the death penalty in all cases
as a violation of the right to life;
- 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
penalty, in accordance with Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a state party.
His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt
Telegrams: President Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt