CAIRO: Giza Criminal Court referred Tuesday the death sentence of 188 defendants to the Grand Mufti, after their conviction for killing police officers in 2013 in Kerdasa.
The sentence is an initial verdict and can be challenged by the defense.
Since the constitution stipulated the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation, all death sentences must be submitted to the Mufti, who examines the verdict and offers an advisory opinion, which the judge may accept or decline.
The court is scheduled to issue its ruling Jan. 24.
There were 188 total defendants in the case regarding the storming of the police station in Kerdasa in August 2013, in which 11 police officers were killed, and their bodies mutilated. A number of police vehicles were also burned.
Presiding judge Nagi Shehata has been under scrutiny in the last months after he was accused by lawyer Khaled Ali to be biased against activists tried over the Cabinet incidents’ case.
The Egyptian courts have already witnessed two mass trials that also ended with mass death sentences for some 1,200 defendants in different cases before a court in Minya. The two cases were challenged, where the number of the defendants, mostly tried in absentia, was reduced in one of them, and the judge was removed from the court.
“The sentencing of 188 people to death in Egypt today is just another example of how the country’s criminal justice system is spiraling out of control. These latest death sentences clearly expose a pattern of issuing death sentences en masse in cases involving police killings,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahroua in a statement.
“It is quite telling that the sentencing, the third such conviction we have seen this year, was handed down in the same week that the case against former president Hosni Mubarak was dropped and and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and his aides were cleared of all charges over killing protesters during the “January 25 revolution”. This is blatantly a case of justice being meted out based on a political whim,” she added.
On Saturday the Cairo Criminal court sentenced that Mubarak, Adly and his 6 aides are not guilty in killing the peaceful protests in Jan. 25 Revolution. However, the acquittal verdicts were challenged by the Attorney General Tuesday, and will be heard the Court of Cassation.
Additional reporting by Hanan Fayed