Egypt rights groups demand probe into Minya verdicts

On Monday, a court in Upper Egypt's Minya province sentenced 37 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to death and handed 491 others life sentences.

Egypt rights groups demand probe into Minya verdicts

World Bulletin / News Desk

Over a dozen Egyptian rights organizations called for an investigation with the judges who earlier this week handed down mass death and life imprisonment sentences against more than a thousand people - mostly supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Accusing the court of "violating the basic rules of a fair trial," the 13 NGOs, in a statement, demanded the case be referred to the Supreme Judicial Council – the country's highest judicial authority – for investigation.

On Monday, a court in Upper Egypt's Minya province sentenced 37 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to death and handed 491 others life sentences.

The court also referred 683 defendants, including Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, to Egypt's top religious official to consider possible death sentences against them on violence charges.

All 1,211 defendants are tried on charges of attacking police stations in Minya last year and involvement in other acts of violence in the province.

The rights organizations accused the trial's judge Said Youssef of being biased towards security forces, citing an earlier verdict by Youssef in 2013 acquitting all security personnel from charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising in the central Beni Suef province.

"The first order of [Minya's] death sentences in March was released after only one court session which lasted only for half an hour based on the lawyers' testimonies," the statement said

"We are deeply concerned about how the repetition in ordering mass capital punishment reflects the authorities' failure to maintain the basic guarantees for fair trials and impartiality of investigations," the organizations said.

Among the signatories to the statement are the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Al-Nadim Centre for Victims of Violence, The Arab Organization for Criminal Justice Reform and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

The prosecutor-general appealed the verdicts hours after they have been released. Details on the appeal processions have yet to be disclosed.

Monday's verdict – the latest move in a widespread crackdown on the Brotherhood by the military-backed authorities, drew strong criticism by international observers and much of the western community.

In the upheaval that followed last July's military ouster of Morsi, deadly attacks against security officers around the country soared.

In the months since Morsi's ouster, thousands of the Islamist groups' members and sympathizers have been arrested and convicted of multiple charges.

The military-backed authorities blame the Brotherhood for the attacks against security personnel, while the group continues to vehemently distance itself from them.

Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2014, 13:26
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