EIPR, Against the Death Penalty and No to Military Trials call for the retrial of defendants in the “Kafr al-Sheikh Stadium” case before civilian courts
No to Military Trials for Civilians, Against the Death penalty and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) express their deep concern that the Supreme Military Court of Appeals in Nasr City may uphold seven death sentences (four in person and three in absentia) in the trial known as the “Kafr el-Sheikh Stadium case” (no. 22 (2015) military crimes Tanta, registered by no. 325 for the year 2015 military crimes Alexandria) tomorrow.
The signatories stress their demands that the death sentences be abolished, and that defendants be retried before a competent civilian court after all the legal violations and gaps in the case are considered.
The case lacks the minimum standards for a fair trial, starting with the forced disappearance of the five defendants for more than 70 days, their illtreatment and torture during this period, their lack of access to lawyers, the court’s complete disregard for the defendants’ allegations that they confessed to the crime under torture, the disregarding of defense witnesses and changes to the statements in the text of the verdict.
The past few years have witnessed an increase in the use of the death penalty by military courts in Egypt.
The seven death sentences were issued by the Military Court of Alexandria on March 2, 2016, against Loutfy Ibrahim Khalil, Ahmed Abdel Moneim Salama, Ahmed Abdel Hady al-Suhaimy and Sameh Abdallah Youssef, (all five in person), in addition to those trialed in absentia: Ahmed Abdul Hamid Mansour, Fakeeh Abdullatif al-Agamy, and Sameh Abu Shair. The case dates back to April 15, 2015, when an explosion took place next to Kafr el-Sheikh stadium, where a number of military college students wait for the bus.
The explosion killed three students and injured two others. The public prosecution investigated the case until April 19, 2015, when former Attorney-General Hesham Barakat referred the case to Military Prosecution in Tanta, which in turn referred it to a military court in Alexandria. The court handed the cases of seven defendants to the Grand Mufti on February 1, 2016, and sentenced them to death on March 2, 2016. Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy ratified the verdict on April 26, 2016, and the ruling was appealed before the Supreme Military Court of Appeals on July 9, with a verdict due tomorrow.
The signatories received legal documents and complaints from families of some of the defendants, stressing their grave doubts about access to a fair trial and defense. The forced disappearance of the defendants began on the day of the explosion, according to copies of the official reports submitted to the public prosecutor's office. Four people were arrested by the police on the same day, including the main defendant, 21-year-old Loutfy Ibrahim, and Ahmed Abdel Moneim Salama was arrested the next day without warrants or permission from the Public Prosecution. The official reports of arrest, which EIPR has copies of, were conducted by the National Security Agency more than two months after the defendants were disappeared, during which time the authorities ignored all legal complaints by their families. They also ignored eyewitness accounts of police arresting the defendants on the dates mentioned. Despite official complaints being filed with the attorney general following the disappearance of the defendants (including official complaint no. 3563, administrative, Kafr el-Sheikh, to the attorney general on May 6, 2015, and the letter addressed to the attorney general of Kafr el-Sheikh Prosecutions no. 1345 Complaints on April 23, 2015, Kafr el-Sheikh), Kafr el-Sheikh police departments denied their detention. Accusations of kidnapping and torture against security forces were not investigated, and were dismissed on December 12, 2015 without any charges.
All defendants in the case, without exception, were subjected to periods of forced disappearance of more than 70 days before the Ministry of Interior revealed their places of detention. They were moved between National Security Agency and General Intelligence facilities in different cities, according to personal statements by Loutfy Ibrahim and Ahmed Salama. Included in the court papers is the testimony of a witness who met some of the defendants, including Ahmed Salama, at the State Security Agency headquarters on April 24, 2015. When he first disappeared, Loutfy Ibrahim was taken to Madinet Nasr’s First Police Station and then to State Security Agency headquarters in Lazoghly, as he testified in writing and handed to his parents on their first visit to see him in prison.
Most of the defendants were tortured since they were disappeared, as detailed in their written testimonies and given to their relatives during prison visits. This has been confirmed by signs of torture on their bodies, even after seven months of arrest, according to their relatives. It should be noted that, despite the court being made aware of these signs of torture, the defense team’s request for forensic examinations of the accused was stalled, relatives of the defendants told EIPR’s researchers. Loutfy's mother still has his clothes, which bear the marks of electric shocks. This is only one of the violations that made him tell the officer torturing him: “Show me what you want and I will sign it,” as was mentioned in his testimony. Police officers also accompanied him to the scene of the incident, according to his testimony, and filmed him confessing what he was instructed to under torture.
As well as a lack of investigation into allegations of torture and conflicting statements, testimonies claiming that some of the defendants were in other places, or even cities, at the time of the incident were not investigated. The educational administration issued an official statement (which EIPR has a copy of), according to which Fakeeh Abdellatif al-Agamy, the teacher sentenced to death in the case, was at Al-Shaheed Ahmad Saad school, and did not leave all day. Additionally, the testimonies of defense witnesses documented during the hearings state that some of the defendants sentenced to death were found in other locations at the time of the explosion: Sameh Abdallah in 6th of October City, Ahmed Salama in Shino administrative center, more than 10 kilometers from the scene of the accident, and Loutfy at his place of work (with a contractor and the owner of the property), which is about two kilometers from the scene of the incident. These testimonies were not mentioned in the reasoning for the verdict.
The signatories condemn all violations of the rights of the defense, and the defendants' right to a fair trial, as stipulated in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The forced disappearance of the defendants contravenes article 40 of Egypt’s Penal Code, which stipulates that, “No one shall be arrested or imprisoned except by an order of the competent authorities, and shall be treated in a manner that protects human dignity and may not be harmed physically or morally.” Torture documented by the defendants and their relatives violates Article 52 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states that, “Torture in all forms and types is a crime that is not subject to prescription.” While torture is considered a “crime punishable by law,” in accordance with article 55 of the Constitution, which also states that, “Every statement proved to be made by a detainee under any of the foregoing actions, or threat thereof, shall be disregarded and not relied upon.” This is reinforced by article 302 of Egypt’s Penal Code.
Some of the signatories had previously requested a non-ratification of the judgment issued on March 2,, 2016, and affirmed their rejection of the military trials of civilians. They also demanded the retrial of the defendants before a competent civil court, with all the guarantees of a fair trial and the opening of an urgent and independent investigation into the torture and forced disappearance that the defendants were subjected to.
- Against the Death penalty
- No to Military Trials of Civilians
- The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights