“It is shocking and unacceptable that an Egyptian court has once again pronounced a summary judgment – this time passing 683 death sentences. We are now witnessing a situation where Egyptian courts are seriously undermining the country’s reputation internationally,” commented Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
On Monday 28 April, 683 people were condemned to death by a court in Minya, including the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Badie. Nearly 600 were condemned in absentia. The death sentences are not yet final, as they have been referred to the Grand Mufti for consideration. The court will pronounce the final sentence once the Grand Mufti has made his recommendation. The sentence can then be appealed. There are several similarities between this judgment and the judgment in March, under which 529 people were condemned to death. Since then 492 of those sentences have been commuted to long prison sentences, while 37 have been upheld.
“It is unacceptable that death sentences and long prison sentences are pronounced without individual legal safeguards being ensured. The right to a fair trial is a fundamental international principle,” Mr Brende said.
In a court ruling in Cairo today, all activities of the April 6 Youth Movement were prohibited with immediate effect. This movement was one of the main driving forces behind the 2011 revolution, and actively promoted workers’ rights also before 2011. Several of its leaders are already imprisoned. The reasons given for today’s ruling were allegations of espionage and defamation of the Egyptian state.
“This is one of a series of repressive measures against critical voices in Egypt. I am deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation for civil society and the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression in the country,” said Mr Brende.