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International Criminal Court to investigate Egyptian military for "crimes against humanity"


At a packed press conference in Mayfair, London, the legal team appointed by the Freedom and Justice party to investigate the Egyptian military following the coup against the Morsi government in July 2013, accused the Egyptian regime of crimes against humanity. The legal team announced that a case has been filed against the regime at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the deaths of 1120 Egyptians.

After the 3 July coup which ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and the governing Freedom and Justice Party, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets to demand a return to democracy and legitimacy. As the protests swept across Egypt the military took to the streets to push the protests back, at which point the protesters faced violent repression from the army. There were a number of occasions which saw massacres against the Egyptian protesters; leading members of the Freedom and Justice Party were arrested and remain in detention, including the legitimate President Mohamed Morsi.

Despite being ousted, the Freedom and Justice party remain the democratically elected government of Egypt. The complaint at the ICC has been accompanied by a Rome Statute article which gives the ICC jurisdiction over Egypt. As Egypt is not a signatory to the ICC this permission is needed in order for the ICC to be able to act in Egypt. The ICC can now investigate allegations of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the military regime.

The press conference heard from members of the legal team Professor John Dugard, Rodney Dixon and Tayab Ali, who is leading the team. They were joined by Dr Dardery, the foreign representative of the Freedom and Justice party. Professor Dugard explained that the ICC would ensure that any crimes committed by the regime would not go unpunished, "the International Criminal Court was established to ensure that crimes against humanity do not go unpunished. It is therefore essential that the court investigate and prosecute those responsible for the commission of such crimes in Egypt."

Rodney Dixon, a barrister at Temple Garden Chambers in London, explained how the submission to the ICC would work. Mr Dixon explained that if the state is not able to or not willing to investigate matters then the ICC jurisdiction can extend to that country. In the case of Egypt, these crimes have not been investigated, if Egypt were to bring about their own investigation this could happen in tandem with an ICC investigation. He went on to say that the ICC would now be investigating the complaint lodged by the lawyers as "she (the ICC prosecutor) is obliged to open a preliminary examination into the material that has been submitted…that will consider all of the evidence that has been submitted and on the basis of that she will have to decide whether to open an investigation formally which can then lead to the issuing of arrest warrants."

Tayab Ali, who has been leading the legal team, said that he has overwhelming evidence from witnesses in Egypt and that their testimonies were supported by graphic images of violence. Mr Ali said that his investigations had revealed that at least 1200 people had been killed but estimated that the real number would in fact be much higher.

The legal team expect to meet with the ICC prosecutor over the coming weeks as the ICC investigation is expected to begin.

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