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9 human rights groups condemn Egypt death sentences

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood top figure Mohamed el-Beltagi (C) gestures from behind the defendant's cage as the judge reads out the verdict sentencing him and more than 100 other defendants, to death at the police academy in Cairo on May 16, 2015. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood top figure Mohamed el-Beltagi (C) gestures from behind the defendant's cage as the judge reads out the verdict sentencing him and more than 100 other defendants, to death at the police academy in Cairo on May 16, 2015. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Nine human rights organisations have signed a letter condemning the death sentences upheld by Egypt's Court of Cassation on Monday.

The death sentences were against 12 men who took part in the anti-coup protests in 2013 and include several senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

There are also four men who were arrested at a checkpoint as they left the Rabaa sit-in one month before the massacre. They were detained after soldiers discovered that two brothers were related to a senior Brotherhood member.

The four men were previously sentenced to three years in prison but added to the 'Rabaa Dispersal' case after they had completed two years of their sentence.

The organisations which signed the letter, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Freedom Initiative, are demanding a moratorium on capital punishment in Egypt, including a halt on the implementation of the death sentences issued in the 'Rabaa Disperal' case.

READ: Egypt continues execution spree, with impunity

"In light of the unjust mass trial from which the verdict stemmed, the sentences must be reviewed and revised," says the statement.

"There must be a credible and independent investigation into the mass killing of protesters during the dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in, with the aim of holding the perpetrators of egregious violations accountable."

Instead of holding perpetrators to account for the mass murder of protests on the day of the Rabaa massacre, when roughly 1,000 people died, Egyptian authorities have subjected survivors to punitive measures such as handing them lengthy prison terms for "violence against authorities" and similar charges, and as in this case, sentencing them to death.

According to Amnesty International, there has been a 300 per cent rise in executions in Egypt and in 2020 Egypt was the third most frequent executioner worldwide.

On Tuesday, Egypt's opposition campaign Batel criticised the "unjust death sentences against national symbols and statesmen."

"The recent death sentences by the regime are nothing but an order to the Egyptian people to kneel down to the ruler of tyranny, and forget about the dream of change, freedom and justice," the group said in a statement.

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