EIPR: New death sentences in the “Planting of Explosive Devices” case

Press Release

18 December 2017

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) condemns the ruling by the Military Court of Alexandria on Sunday, in case No. 108/ Felonies, known as the “Planting of Explosive Devices" case. The court sentenced 14 defendants to death, 24 to life imprisonment, 15 to 15 years' imprisonment, and acquitted two defendants. EIPR also condemns the assault on the families of the accused after the verdict was issued. According to the families: security forces fired tear gas canisters and assaulted them with batons. Three people were arrested and their whereabouts were not known until the time of writing this press release.

Fourteen people were sentenced to death: Ahmed Mohamed Abdel Aal El Deeb, Essam Mohamed Mahmoud Aql, Taher Ahmed Ismail Hamroush, Mohamed El Sayed Mohamed Shehata Abu Kaf, Azzam Ali Shehata Ahmed Amr, Badr El Din Mohamed Mahmoud El Gamal, Samir Mohamed Bidewy, Ahmed Mohamed El Sherbini, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Mohamed Abdel Rahman Saleh, Mahmoud Mohamed Salem Hefny, Mahmoud Ismail Ali Ismail, Khaled Hassan Hanafi Shehata, al-Sayed Ibrahim El Sehaimi, and Ahmed Hassan Saad.

EIPR  reaffirms its position against the trial of civilians before military courts, especially in cases where death sentences can be imposed on the accused. In the event of a death sentence, international human rights law requires that the accused be given a fair trial, in accordance with Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The most basic of these rights is the right to be tried by a competent civil court.EIPR calls for the retrial of all defendants in this case before a  relevant civil court, with an urgent and independent investigation into allegations of violations of the right to defense and human rights violations in the case.

According to the defense team as communicated to EIPR researchers, the court did not take into account the conditions for a fair trial while considering the case. The court did not present the evidence to the defense or defendants. The case was considered more than once in the absence of some of them, raising doubts about the invalidity of the trial proceedings. The court also rejected several defense requests, such as a request to move to inspect some places related to the case because of the doubts of the defendants' lawyers regarding the accuracy of the investigation records.

Case No. 108/2015 Military Felonies is the trial concerning 27 incidents in Alexandria between 2014 and 2015, including several bombings and the killing of Corporal Daifallah Ibrahim Younis, driver of a police vehicle belonging to Montazah II Police Station, at the end of 2014. It is noteworthy that seven of the accused in the case were in prison pending another case at the time of the events to which they were charged.

One of the arguments raised by the defense of the accused in the case is the incompatibility of considering the members of the "right and left" section of the bench, because they issued a verdict against other defendants in a previous case, case No. 68/2015 Alexandria Military Felonies, which included among the accusations against the defendants in the indictment, the murder of corporal Daifallah Ibrahim Younis. This was the  same charge that was also brought against the accused in the present case.

According to what the defense lawyers told  EIPR researchers, and what some of the families of the defendants sentenced to death published on social media, the defendants in the case were subjected to a number of other human rights violations. For example, a number of them were arrested and their whereabouts were not disclosed before the issuance of their arrest warrants. They were forcibly disappeared, such as what happened with Badr  El Gamal, who was arrested in the Ajami area on November 11, 2015, after his wedding party, while riding a car to go home with his wife. Local media reported the story of his arrest.

EIPR confirms once more that death sentences do not mean justice is served, and that the trial of civilians before military courts must be stopped. he defendants in those cases must be retried before competent civil courts and all guarantees of fair trial should be provided. EIPR also expresses its concerns that military courts will continue to issue death sentences against civilians, with hearings scheduled in at least three cases before  military courts this month.