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Amnesty demands Egypt reverse unfair death sentences following mass trial 

June 30, 2022 at 3:34 pm

A truck ad, displaying the faces of 12 political prisoners in Egypt that are facing the death penalty, drove through Washington DC on 17 July 2021 [The Freedom Initiative/Flickr]

Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to abolish “unfair” sentences issued on Tuesday against 163 people, including ten people who were handed the death penalty, saying the sentences were “unfair” while the procedure was “marred by cases of enforced disappearance and torture, including of children”.

Commenting on the sentences, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Today’s verdict is an insult to justice.”

“This was a mass trial of more than 200 people. The Egyptian authorities denied the defendants access to their lawyers throughout the pretrial and trial proceedings. Some have been banned from seeing their families since 2016. Most have been detained at the notorious al-Aqrab and Tora Maximum Security Two Prison in cruel and inhuman conditions, amounting to torture,” she said.

Guellali added that the Egyptian authorities “must investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances and torture, and immediately allow all detainees access to their families, lawyers and adequate medical care.”

“Given the flagrant fair trial breaches in this case, authorities must quash the verdict and order the release of detainees, most of whom had been held for over two years in pretrial detention in contravention of Egyptian law. If charged with internationally recognisable offences, they must be granted fair retrials without recourse to the death penalty,” she added.

READ: Egypt sentences 10 Muslim Brotherhood members to death

“Sentencing 10 men to death, especially following such grossly unfair proceedings, is a violation of the right to life. The authorities must immediately declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and refrain from issuing death sentences as first steps towards abolition,” Guellali said.

In February 2015, the Supreme State Security Prosecution referred over 200 people to trial over various charges including terrorism, destruction of property and murder.  The case is known as the “Helwan Brigades” case.

The trial revolves around a group that emerged in August 2014 and claimed responsibility for attacks on the police.

At least four of the detainees were under 18 at the time of their arrest. One of them, Youssef Samir, was 16 when he was arrested in July 2014 and subjected to enforced disappearance for over two months, said the rights watchdog.

Amnesty International said five defendants died in prison amid reports of being denied adequate medical care.

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