A team of international lawyers in London has announced that they are in possession of evidence incriminating officials from the Egyptian coup regime in crimes against humanity. The lawyers noted that they have been instructed by the Freedom and Justice Party and members of the Egyptian Shura Council (disbanded by the coup) with a view to the prosecution of the said officials.
The legal team includes Britain’s former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken Macdonald; the former UN Special Envoy for Human Rights, Professor Richard Falk; and UK-based human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield, QC, who represented Mohamed Al Fayed after the death of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Heading the team is Tayab Ali, from ITN Solicitors in London.
Speaking at a press conference in the British capital, the team listed the charges against the officials, including murder, torture and the forced disappearance of persons, all of which are enough to prosecute the accused in local and international courts, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. According to the lawyers, these charges cannot be dropped on grounds of limitation.
The legal team did not reveal any details of the evidence in their possession or the list of defendants due to the effects that would have on the course of the case. They did, however, confirm that they have enough statements from victims and witnesses, as well as documents from sources inside and outside Egypt.
The lawyers are also aiming to freeze the licences issued by Western countries allowing them to export arms to the army and police in Egypt. They announced the establishment of a hotline to receive more evidence about the crimes that have taken place in the country since the coup. The hotline, said Tayab Ali, will include the facility to send e-mails for additional evidence to be received from victims and their families or anyone else who can throw more light on what he described as “the crimes and massacres committed by the Egyptian authorities”.
Moreover, Ali told Al-Jazeera that the legal team is seeking to find out everyone involved in the crimes against humanity and that these individuals will not get away with their crimes and will be prosecuted. The team would also like this case to result in the end of peaceful civilians being targeted by the coup authorities.
He added that they are aiming to enlighten the entire international community, including lawyers and governments, about the nature of the team’s mission so that other investigations may be started. Ali expressed his team’s willingness to share their evidence with any prestigious institution or government investigating what is happening in Egypt.
According to Michael Mansfield, the entire world witnessed the massacres that were committed in Egypt, live on television. As such, he told Al-Jazeera, his efforts won’t be focused on proving that the crimes were committed, because this is a given. Instead, they will focus on the process of examining the evidence to identify those responsible for the crimes.
On the issue of internationalising the issue, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a spokesman for the FJP’s Foreign Relations Committee, said that they are refusing to internationalise the Egyptian issue and refuse foreign interventions, but asked, “What do you do if the judiciary is politicised?”
He considered this step as a search for justice in any suitable jurisdiction, and not an internationalisation of Egypt’s internal political affairs. “We want those who murdered fellow Egyptians in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya, Al-Nahda, Ramses and all the other squares to be brought to justice.”
The legal team have discussed the possibility of prosecuting the criminals in local and international courts. They announced that they have informed the Egyptian military authorities that the investigations have started and have requested relevant evidence to be handed over.