Egypt Court Sentences 75 to Death in Mass Trial of Protesters

Sergio Conner
September 11, 2018

Those receiving death sentences include Muslim Brotherhood leaders, a politician, a preacher and a former youth minister.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, was sentenced to five years, which he has already served.

The government said many protesters were armed, and that eight police were killed - although it initially said more than 40 members of the security services had died.

The Cairo Criminal Court is trying 739 persons accused of security related activities, killing and destroying public properties.

"Egypt, like many countries, when they fight terrorism usually adopt three steps: one is to eliminate the leadership, either by imprisonment or exile; the second strategy is to cut the [groups'] finances, and this has been taking place by confiscating and suspending any company that used to provide money for the Muslim Brotherhood [protests]; third strategy is to criminalize membership in any of those terrorist organizations", Sadek said.

Photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid was among 739 defendants on trial, majority charged with killing police and vandalising property.

On Thursday, Amnesty International and press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) held a joint rally outside the Egyptian embassy in Paris to demand that he be set free.

"This can only be described as a parody of justice; it casts a dark shadow over the integrity of Egypt's entire system of justice, and makes a mockery of due process", Najia Bounaim, director of campaign in North Africa at Amnesty International, said in June.

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Those sentenced to jail included a United States citizen, Moustafa Kassem, rights group Pretrial Rights International said.

On August 14, 2013, a month after the army removed Mr Morsi from office, police moved to disperse a sprawling Islamist protest camp at Rabaa Al Adawiya square in Cairo.

The protest culminated in mass violence, when Egyptian security forces - under the command of now-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi - attempted to clear thousands of demonstrators by using automatic weapons, armored personnel carriers and military bulldozers.

But the lawyer added that the sentence was nevertheless "unfair because he was only doing his job" and covering the events unfolding in the Egyptian capital five years ago.

Charges were dropped against five other defendants who had died since the legal proceedings began.

Hundreds more were killed in street clashes with police over the months that followed and mass arrests were made.

It said the verdicts were "a mockery of justice", since "not a single police officer has been brought to account".

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