• Campaigns

Egypt: Death penalty / legal concern

, Index number: MDE 12/008/1998

Gamal Mohammad Mostafa Abu Rawwash and Taha 'Abd al-Razeq 'Abd al-Maqsud: These two men were sentenced to death by the Supreme Military Court in Cairo on 1 February 1998. AI fears that they may be executed within weeks if the sentences are upheld.

EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 12/08/98
EXTRA 11/98 Death Penalty / Legal Concern 2 February 1998
EGYPTGamal Mohammad Mostafa Abu Rawwash, medical doctor aged 32
Taha ‘Abd al-Razeq ‘Abd al-Maqsud, a student aged 23
The two people mentioned above were sentenced to death by the Supreme Military
Court in Cairo on 1 February 1998. Amnesty International fears that they may
be executed within weeks if the sentences are upheld.
The two were among 65 defendants tried in connection with their alleged
membership of the al-Gama’a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group). Charges against them
included membership of an illegal secret organization, plotting to kill
government officials and a civilian judge, possession of weapons, and forging
documents. One man was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour and
30 other defendants received prison terms ranging from 15 years with hard labour
to three years. The court acquitted 32 defendants. Most defendants were arrested
in mid-1997 and their trial before the Supreme Military Court in Heikstep,
east of Cairo, started on 17 November.
The defendants, all civilians, were tried before a military court whose
procedures fall far short of international standards for fair trial. Article
14 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
to which Egypt is a state party, guarantees a fair hearing by an independent
and impartial tribunal.
There is no right to appeal verdicts or sentences of military courts to a higher
court. All death sentences issued by military courts are subject only to review
by the Military Appeals’ Bureau, a non-judicial body headed by the President
of the Republic, and ratification by the President. All death sentences issued
so far by military courts have been confirmed by the Bureau and the President.
Such procedures contravene Article 14 (5) of the ICCPR which guarantees that
all those convicted of a crime shall have the right to have their conviction
and sentence 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.
Since October 1992, when President Hosni Mubarak began issuing special decrees
referring civilian cases to be tried before military courts, 85 people charged
with “terrorist” offences have been sentenced to death by these courts and
58 executions have been carried out. Most of those acquitted by military and
(Emergency) Supreme State Security courts in recent years have remained
detained.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Arabic, English, French, or your own language:
- urging the President to use his constitutional powers to grant clemency to
the two people named above and commute these and all other pending death
sentences;
- acknowledging the right and duty of states to bring to justice those
responsible for violent crimes, but explaining 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, stressing that there is no evidence that it
is an effective deterrent to such crimes;
- expressing concern that the defendants were tried before a military court
and that the trial did not comply with international standards for fair trial,
including Article 14 of the ICCPR, to which Egypt is a state party;
2
- urging that all those acquitted by the court be released immediately;
if possible, also:
- expressing concern at the continuing extensive 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.
APPEALS TO:
His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt
Telegrams: President Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt
Telexes: 93794 WAZRA UN
Faxes: +202 390 1998
Salutation: Your Excellency
COPIES TO:
Ms Nayla Gabr
The Human Rights Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Corniche al-Nil, Cairo, Egypt
Dr Fathi Sorour
Speaker
The People's Assembly
Magles al-Sha'ab Street, Cairo, Egypt
and to diplomatic representatives of Egypt accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.Check with the Internaitonal Secretariat, or
your section office, if sending appeals after 2 March 1998.

Choose a language to view report