New death sentence in the “Tanzeem Agnad Masr” case; Rights groups: Death sentences do not mean justice is served
The undersigned rights groups condemn the verdict issued by the Giza Felony Court on Thursday sentencing 13 defendants to death in case no. 3455/2014/South Giza plenary, known as the “Tanzeem Agnad Masr” case. The court sentenced 13 defendants to death, while handing down life imprisonment to 17 defendants, 15-year prison terms to two others, and a five-year prison sentence to seven more. The court also acquitted five defendants and dropped the case against one defendant due to his death. This latter defendant was extrajudicially killed in April 2015, as announced by the Ministry of Interior.
The 13 defendants sentenced to death in presence are: Bilal Ibrahim Sobhi Farahat, Mohammed Saber Ramadan Nasr, Gamal Zaki Abd al-Rahim Saad, Abdullah al-Sayyed Mohammed al-Sayyed, Yasser Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Khodeir, Saad Abd al-Raouf Saad Mohammed, Mohammed Ahmed Tawfiq Hassan, Mahmoud Saber Ramadan Nasr, Samir Ibrahim Saad Mustafa, Islam Shaaban Shehata Suleiman, Mohammed Adel Abd al-Hamid Hassan, Mohammed Hassan Ezz al-Din Mohammed Hassan, and Tag al-Din Munnis Mohammed Semida.
The undersigned organizations reiterate their rejection of the continued issuance of death sentences, especially in cases in which compliance with due process standards and defendants’ rights is questionable—that is true of this case based on the official documents obtained.
According to the case files, which bear the state seal, a number of defendants sentenced to death in this case experienced human rights violations. At least six of them were forcibly disappeared, being arrested prior to the issuance of arrest warrants—in the case of Mahmoud Saber Ramadan, 104 days prior to the warrant. They were detained in the State Security headquarters in 6th of October city and in al-Azouli Prison, both unlawful places of detention under Article 54 of the Egyptian constitution. The undersigned organizations also found that at least ten of the defendants made statements detailing the torture inflicted upon them by state officers. The Public Prosecution noted various “bruises” and “scratches” on at least four of the defendants when questioning them, and seven defendants asked to be brought before forensic medicine to document the traces of torture on their bodies. The case files show that at least five defendants had no defense counsel present during the initial interrogations; the Public Prosecution justified this by citing “ necessity,” fear of the loss of evidence, and the expiration of the defendant’s term of detention.
All defendants recanted their earlier confessions, saying they were the result of threat and torture. This should have necessitated the onset of a serious investigation into the defendants’ torture allegations, and their confessions should have been considered null and void, under Article 54 of the constitution. In addition, at least seven defendants complained of poor conditions and treatment in prison; one defendant even refused to appear before the prosecution, in objection to his poor treatment in prison.
The case dates back to several events that occurred between 2013 and 2015, including the bombings at the Talbiya police station and the Behous metro station in 2014, as well as those near Cairo University and the High Court of Justice in March 2015. The prosecution charged 45 defendants with a number of crimes, including joining and leading a group established in violation of the law, murder and attempted murder, destruction of public property, the use of explosives, the possession of weapons and ammunition, and attending and receiving military training from terrorist groups abroad.
The trial began in April 2015 and continued for two years until the court referred the files of 13 defendants to the Grand Mufti on October 8, before issuing its verdict today. The convicted defendants can appeal the verdict before the Court of Cassation within 60 days for a chance of having their sentences reduced. According to the most recent amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the verdict to be issued by the Court of Cassation will be final and not subject to appeal.
The undersigned organizations reiterate that the continued issuance of death sentences does not guarantee that justice is served.The organizations call for a retrial of the defendants in this case in a process that respects fair trial standards. They also express their concern over the possibility of issuing additional death sentences this month, as verdicts are expected this month in at least five cases in which the defendants’ case files have already been referred to the Grand Mufti; at least two of these cases are before military courts.
- Against the Death Penalty
- Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms
- The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights