Quickly, in only the second court session of the ludicrous lawsuit, the military-controlled North Minia court passed death sentences against 529 defendants today (Monday, March 24) after condemning for allegedly storming and torching Matay Police Station in Minia City earlier on August 14, 2013, murdering a police officer and attempting to murder another.
Of the defendants, 147 were present during the trial, while 398 were tried and sentenced in absentia.
The case's first court session was held on Saturday March 22, 2014, and the lawyers and defendants were not allowed to have access to the case files which contained 14000 documents. The same thing was repeated during the second session, today, which lasted only 10 minutes, after which the court transferred the case to the Mufti to approve the mass death sentence. The defendants' families as well as the media were prevented from attending the court hearing. The final verdict will be given on April 28, 2014.
Absurdly, two of the defendants who were sentenced to death today had already been killed in Minia at the hands of Minia police, on August 14, 2013 - their names still included in the case.
According to the Egyptian criminal law, sentencing more than 105 to death is a crime in itself. According to the international law, too, this is a crime of mass killing and a Crime against Humanity. Hence the current Egyptian authorities have breached their own laws as well as international laws.
The court procedure lacked the minimum standards for court trials and denied the defendants all their rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
Notably, the defendants are supporters of the currently detained Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as a majority of pro-democracy protesters.
The hasty conviction, in only two short sessions, and extreme sentencing reveal lack of essential impartiality of the court that issued verdicts without allowing the defendants or their lawyers to present defense statements. Meanwhile, that court sentenced one police officer to only 10 years in prison and three other officers to 3 years suspended jail terms in the well-known case of killing 37 detainees in a police van while transferring them to Abu-Zaabal prison.
Even more vividly, the Egyptian courts' bias is revealed in the fact that on-one was ever convicted for killing protesters during the January 25 Revolution - a case which has been going for over 48 court sessions now.
Furthermore, Interior Ministry forces and the army killed thousands of unarmed civilian Egyptians in one single day, then continued to kill more innocent protesters to date with no single prosecution or conviction against those who committed those horrendous crimes.
Human Rights Monitor (HRM) stresses that this verdict, unprecedented in Egypt’s history, is an evident crime of mass killing and amounts to a crime against humanity punishable by the international law.
HRM strongly condemns the decision of the military-controlled court as a politicized verdict against opponents of the coup, and urges the UN to investigate and stop the execution of the 529 defendants immediately.
HRM further calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send her staff to visit Egypt and conduct a fact-finding mission into all the violations committed by the current authorities.
HRM also highlights the fact that the current authorities' on-going grants of impunity to police officers and lawyers constitute a violation of all international laws and conventions.