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HRW: Egypt courts are used to punish political opponents

February 25, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday stressed that Egyptian courts are being exploited to punish political opponents.

This, the group said, is exemplified in the life sentence handed down, apparently by mistake, to a three-year-old child on 16 February.

HRW clarified that a Cairo military court presiding over the mass trial of 116 defendants, including toddler Ahmed Mansour Korrani Shararah, issued the verdict after investigators and prosecutors failed to remove the child’s name, “even though they knew it was included by mistake.”

“This case exemplifies the banality of repression in Egypt today,” Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East director, said.

“Police, prosecutors and judges aren’t even bothering to check basic facts as they rush to pack defendants off to prison.”

The defence lawyer explained that police raided the child’s family home to arrest him in 2014, believing him to be an adult. When Ahmed’s father showed the officers his son’s birth certificate, they arrested his father instead and kept him in custody for four months.

“In response to media scrutiny, the authorities have offered incomplete explanations,” HRW said.

The rights organisation noted that an Egyptian military spokesman said in a Facebook statement on Sunday that the convicted person in this case is not the three-year-old child but a 16-year-old student who fled before the police tried to arrest him in 2014.

“The spokesman did not explain why police in 2014 had gone to the three-year-old’s home or arrested his father,” HRW added.