Egypt: Death sentences upheld for 12 defendants after shameful mass trial

Egypt’s highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation, today upheld death sentences for 12 people, including a number of senior Muslim Brotherhood figures, following a mass trial of 739 people over their participation in mass anti-government sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square in July and August 2013. Responding to the news, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“These ruthless death sentences, which were handed down in 2018 after a grossly unfair mass trial, are a stain on the reputation of Egypt’s highest appeals court and cast a dark shadow over the country’s entire justice system.

These ruthless death sentences, which were handed down in 2018 after a grossly unfair mass trial, are a stain on the reputation of Egypt’s highest appeals court and cast a dark shadow over the country’s entire justice system
Philip Luther, Amnesty International

“The news comes following a sharp spike in the number of executions carried out in Egypt in 2020 making it the world’s third most frequent executioner. At least 51 men and women have been executed in 2021 so far. 

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Instead of continuing to escalate their use of the death penalty by upholding death sentences following convictions in grossly unfair mass trials Egyptian authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions.

“Those protesters convicted of committing violent crimes should be retried in fair and impartial trials without recourse to the death penalty.

“Shockingly, Egyptian security forces continue to evade justice for the deadly violence they unleashed against protesters in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares in August 2013 killing at least 900 people and injuring thousands.

“The Egyptian authorities have to date taken no measures to hold the perpetrators of this massacre to account. They must do so without further delay.” 

In September 2018, a Cairo criminal court handed down death sentences against 75 people who participated in the sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya  square in July and August 2013 after convicting them of charges related to participating in unauthorized protests and committing violence against security force personnel and others. Amnesty International considered the trial to have been grossly unfair.

The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court, today upheld the sentences of 12 out of the 75 individuals sentenced to death. It did not examine the cases of the remaining 30 as they had been sentenced in their absence and, under Egyptian law, therefore need to be retried when they can be brought to trial in person before any review by the Court of Cassation.