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Egypt: 680 death sentences handed down since 3 July 2013

Nine anti-government defendants were sentenced to death in Egypt on Monday, bringing the number of those handed the death penalty to 680 since 3 July 2013, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) said in a report on Tuesday.

The organisation said the Egyptian security services torture opponents of the Egyptian regime and commit crimes against them so as to force them to confess to "fabricated" charges so they can be given severe sentences that may amount to the death penalty.

Seven of those who have received the death penalty have already been executed. The total number of defendants whose papers were referred to the Grand Mufti has reached 1,734. The report pointed out that senior officials at Mansoura's security directorate systematically exercise illegal detention, kidnapping, torture and the forgery of official documents and fabrications.

The AOHR UK noted that photographing the defendants in a degrading manner, humiliating and torturing them and forcing them to give false confessions that were dictated to them constitute "unacceptable behaviour both legally and morally; and are also serious human rights violations which, if added to other human rights violations in Egypt, underline the collapse of the moral and legal system among individuals in the Egyptian police."

The organisation warned that the adoption of the anti-terror law poses a threat to defendants who had already been sentenced to death as the new law decreased their chances of avoiding the death penalty and having fair trials.

It invited UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to form a fact-finding committee with full powers to investigate crimes committed after 3 July 2013 and bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.

On Monday, the Terrorism Circuit at the Mansoura Criminal Court, headed by Judge Osama Abdul Zahir, sentenced to death nine young men, including four students, in case number 16,850 of the year 2014, in which 24 people from the province of Dakahlia are accused. The remaining defendants were sentenced to life in prison.

Yesterday the court referred the cases of 10 defendants to the Grand Mufti for his approval. They were sentenced on charges of killing a police sergeant, committing acts of violence against the army and police forces, forming a cell that seeks regime change, and possessing explosives and weapons.

AOHR UK said it had that defendants were subjected to torture to force them to make fabricated confessions. Such confessions would help the regime demonise its opponents and incite public hatred ahead of the judicial procedures.

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