CAIRO: The EU and Human Rights Watch condemned Wednesday the mass death sentences given to 188 defendants for killing police officers in 2013 in the Kerdasa district of Giza, and called for the cancelling of the death penalty.
The Giza Criminal Court referred Tuesday the case to the Grand Mufti for an advisory opinion; the sentences are an initial verdict and can be challenged by the defense.
“The initial Giza court’s death verdict, which was released yesterday, against 188 accused in the violent attack on police station last year, a cause for concern,” the European Union in Egypt said Wednesday in a statement.
The EU delegation called for the respect of the judiciary procedures, the correction of the investigations, and also the right to communicate with victims’ lawyers and family members.
Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement “mass death sentences are fast losing Egypt’s judiciary whatever reputation for independence it once had,” adding “instead of weighing the evidence against each person, judges are convicting defendants en masse without regard for fair trial standards.”
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.