Egypt: Death sentences against 37 convicted of terrorism after unfair trial

Responding to today’s death sentences of 37 defendants by the Cairo Criminal Court following their conviction on terrorism-related charges, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“There is no doubt that those sentenced to death today have been convicted of serious crimes, including deadly attacks. However, the death penalty can never deliver justice, all the more so when it has been issued after a trial in which dozens of defendants say they were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture. 

There is no doubt that those sentenced to death today have been convicted of serious crimes, including deadly attacks. However, the death penalty can never deliver justice, all the more so when it has been issued after a trial in which dozens of defendants say they were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture
Philip Luther

“We are calling on the Egyptian authorities to retry the defendants in proceedings that comply with international human rights law and fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty.”

Background

The 37 defendants are among 208 defendants convicted of carrying out 54 militant attacks between 2013 and 2014. These included killing high-ranking police officers and bombing a security directorate office in the city of Daqhaliya, as well as an assassination attempt on the former Egyptian interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, in 2013.

The court also sentenced 61 defendants to life sentences and 88 others to prison terms ranging from five to 15 years. The remaining 22 individuals died during the course of the trial.

Amnesty International has serious concerns about the fairness of the trial. According to a report issued by the Egyptian Front for Human Rights in 2019, many of the defendants who were detained said they were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture: 70 defendants told prosecutors that they were subjected to enforced disappearance for periods up to five months, during which 62 of them said they were tortured by being beaten, subjected to electric shocks to the genitals or suspended for prolonged periods while handcuffed and naked.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life; it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.