Death sentences undermine objectives of Fahmy’s visit to the US
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy - REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

CAIRO: A state of controversy over the judicial verdict issued by Minya Criminal Court on Monday to sentence 683 defendants affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to death has coincided with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy’s visit to the United States

Many experts believe the judicial verdict could undermine the objectives of the visit, which aims to improve relations between the two allies after months of tension since the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013

The White House refused the verdict, stressing that it defies the rules of international justice. It warned in a statement issued on April 29 that, “suppressing the opposition will fuel extremism and destabilize Egypt”

The White House also said, “judicial independence is a major factor of democracy, while the recent verdict contradicts with Egypt’s commitments the International Law of Human Rights. We call for the Egyptian government to overturn the sentences to ensure the rights of each citizen”

The U.S. Department of State issued a similar statement on Monday to express deep concern over the recent verdicts

The same Egyptian court issued a parallel verdict against 529 defendants affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in March, while on Monday it turned to cancel the verdict against most of them upon the advice of Egypt’s Mufti. It ratified the death sentence against only 37 defendants, while it sentenced the others to life imprison on Monday

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said the court considered the case carefully before making its decision, stressing that the defendants have the right to appeal against the verdict to ensure their rights

He added in an interview with NPR Radio that the attempts to raise skepticism over the independence of Egypt’s judiciary are “nonsense.” He said, “the government could agree or disagree with the decisions taken by the courts, like the Egyptian people, while it does not interfere in the judicial affairs”

Fahmy is currently visiting the U.S. to discuss recent developments with U.S. officials. The visit is considered the first of its kind since June 30. He stressed the importance of maintaining U.S.-Egyptian relations

In the same context, political expert Adel Soliman, head of International Center for Strategic Studies, said that the U.S. position was clear during the press conference conducted between U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and his Egyptian counterpart. He added that the U.S. official condemned the Egyptian judiciary in the presence of the Egyptian official

Kerry said during a press conference conducted on April 19 in Washington, D.C. that the decisions taken by Egypt’s judiciary raise deep concern

Soliman said in a statement to The Cairo Post that “such statements reflect that the U.S. administration will not change its position about Egypt in the near future.” He added that the recent verdicts undermine the objectives of Fahmy’s visit to the U.S

“The U.S. administration will resume suspending its military aid to Egypt amid calls for increasing U.S aid to Israel to $3.8 billion,” said Soliman

He added that it is not an easy task for the Egyptian government to abandon military aid from the U.S., saying that the matter needs a huge budget and a plan to maintain the balance of our international relations

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