Tags: Egypt | MuslimBrotherhood | sentences

Egypt's Judges Rebuff Criticism of Death Sentences

Thursday, 01 May 2014 10:33 AM

CAIRO — Egypt's Justice Minister on Wednesday rebuffed international criticism of a mass trial this week in which some 680 defendants were sentenced to death, saying the judiciary is not a tool of executive authority and that rulings can be overturned upon appeal.

"Egyptian judges are independent and there is no control over them," Nayer Osman told reporters. "No one in the state is directing the judge — neither a minister, nor an official."

After a death penalty ruling, the prosecutor must appeal along with the defendant in line with normal judicial process, he added. "The judge is a human being. He can make a mistake like any other human being," he said.

Osman added that commenting on the verdicts "is not acceptable by all means ... we don't accept any intervention by any means."

Also Wednesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned another recent Egyptian court decision: a ban on the April 6 youth organization issued two days ago. The group said it was an "escalation in the government's campaign against all peaceful opposition."

April 6 is an influential group, one of several that engineered the 2011 uprising against longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak that set off nearly three years of unrest. The court ordered the takeover of the group's offices.

"Banning political dissent won't make it go away," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Earlier on Wednesday, Egyptian court officials said a Salafi preacher and top Muslim Brotherhood ally had been sentenced to a year in prison with labor for insulting judges during his trial.

Safwat Hegazy, a strong supporter of deposed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, was sentenced Wednesday for refusing to remain silent in court and speaking to the judge in an inappropriate manner. He made the remarks while on trial with 130 others including Morsi, for escaping from prison during the country's 2011 uprising.

Hegazy was a key speaker at the main pro-Morsi sit-in dispersed by security forces last August. He had told protesters to hold their ground and promised to reverse the military's overthrow of Morsi.

Thousands of supporters of the now-illegal Brotherhood and the ousted president are in prison awaiting trial, along with liberal democracy activists who have spoken out against the military-backed government.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

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Egypt's Justice Minister on Wednesday rebuffed international criticism of a mass trial this week in which some 680 defendants were sentenced to death, saying the judiciary is not a tool of executive authority and that rulings can be overturned upon appeal.
Egypt, MuslimBrotherhood, sentences
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2014-33-01
Thursday, 01 May 2014 10:33 AM
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