Egyptian Court Sentences 188 People to Death

Egyptian Court Sentences 188 People to Death
Wed Dec 3, 2014 09:45:53

An Egyptian court sentenced 188 people to death for attacks on a police station that left 11 police officers and two civilians dead in August 2013, al-Ahram online reported late Tuesday.

The defendants were found guilty of killing the officers after storming a police station in Kerdasa, a town west of Cairo.

"They were also found guilty of the attempted murder of 10 other police personnel, sabotaging the police station, torching a number of police vehicles and possessing heavy firearms," al-Ahram said.

Only 135 of the 188 were present; the rest were tried in absentia.

The verdict was sent to Egypt's grand mufti, a requirement under Egyptian law before any death sentence can be carried out.

The Kerdasa attack on August 14, 2013, took place on the day that Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of people while removing two protest camps of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's supporters, in the area of Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque.

The court has scheduled its final verdict for January 24, after the Mufti's decision is issued. The verdict can still be appealed.

In March, a Minya court handed down a similar mass death sentence to 529 people for killing a police officer, committing acts of violence, destroying public and private property and attempted murder of police officers.

In April, the same judge issued death sentences in a separate case to 683 people for killing a police officer and committing acts of violence.

At the time, the grand mufti approved the death sentences for 37 in the first trial and 183 in the second. The two cases are currently being appealed.

The Egyptian mass death sentences have been widely criticized by local and international human rights groups and foreign governments.

Meanwhile, human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused top officials in Egypt of likely "crimes against humanity" in an August 14, 2013 crackdown in which hundreds of protesters were killed.

Security forces stormed two sit-ins of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares on that day, resulting in what HRW termed "one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history".

A HRW report said its own investigation into the crackdown and interviews with more than 200 witnesses showed that security forces intentionally used "excessive lethal force" in breaking the sit-ins.

At least 817 demonstrators died in Rabaa al-Adawiya square alone, it said.

Since that day, more than 1400 people have died in street clashes, including the Rabaa carnage, over 15 000 jailed, among them Morsi and the top leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood, and over 200 sentenced to death in speedy trials.

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