CAIRO: The United States realized that it made a mistake when referring to the death sentence of 529 Muslim Brotherhood members as definitive, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Badr Abdel Atty said Saturday during a phone call to ONTV channel.
Atty was referring to statements by the U.S. denouncing the sentence. On March 24, Reuters reported that U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the sentence was “pretty shocking” and “defies logic.”
“We’re certainly raising it with the Egyptian government … it’s a pretty shocking number,” added Harf.
“What the court issued was not a sentence,” Atty said, adding that the court “only asked for the advice of the grand mufti on what the verdict should be.”
Egyptian law stipulates that the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar must approve all death penalty decisions before they are issued. Afterwards, the final verdict can be appealed.
Atty said the “Foreign Ministry through its embassies explained the principle of the independence of the judiciary … The executive branch of government cannot interfere in the legislative branch’s affairs.”
On March 24, Minya Criminal Court had sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, pending the mufti’s approval, over charges of attacking a police station and killing its deputy head.