EIPR condemns the sentence of imprisonment against Tantawi and his campaign members and depriving the former presidency candidate from running for Parliamentary elections for 5 years
EIPR denounces the court judgment of imprisonment, with labour, issued by Mattariyah Misdemeanors Court held in Amiriyah Court Complex against the former presidential candidate, Ahmad al-Tantawi, after trial, through his representative, in addition to the payment of EGP 20,000 in bail for a temporary stay on execution. Based on Article 65 of the Law no. 45/ 2014 Concerning Political Rights, Tantawi was also deprived of the ability to run for Parliamentary elections for 5 years once the judgment became final. Furthermore, Mohammad Abu-el-Diyar, the campaign manager, was sentenced to a year and the payment of an EGP 20,000 bail for a stay on execution. Convicts from third to twenty-third were also sentenced to a year with labour and immediate implementation. The Court ordered the payment of criminal costs by all defendants.
Today, the judgment on the case referred by the Supreme State Security Prosecution, registration no. 16336 of 2023 (Mattraiyah Misdemeanors) was issued against the former presidential candidate, Ahmad al-Tantawi, as a first defendant, against Muhammad Abu-el-Diyar, as a second defendant, and against 21 other defendants.
The case was heard on November 7th, 2023, after the Supreme State Security Prosecution referred case 2255 of 2023 (Supreme State Security) to the Court. The referral decision included the indictment of al-Tantawi and his campaign manager for being complicit by incitement, agreement, and provision for defendants 3 to 23 of one of the elections process papers. The charges were pressed against defendants 3 to 23 for printing and distributing form no.4 confirming the support by citizens of the candidate running for presidency without prior approval of the competent authorities. Such crimes are punishable by one-year imprisonment, payment of fines, and deprivation of the benefitting candidate – in case of prior knowledge and approval of such actions – from running for Parliamentary elections for five years once the judgement becomes final.
The case was predicated on the call disseminated by the campaign of the presidential candidate Ahmad Al-Tantawi in early October to citizens desiring to issue an official endorsement in support of his candidature for presidency to fill the form designed for this purpose and made available on different new platforms – without having to go in person to public notary offices. This was a symbolic step designed to show support in response to the deliberate obstruction of citizens through the use of intimidation and bullying in front of public notary offices, as documented by EIPR.
EIPR documented a number of serious and systematic violations against al-Tantawi’s campaign, which were in breach of constitutional civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, the right to participate in public affairs, and the right to physical integrity. All such violations were committed in the context of making the public powers-of-attorney required for candidature, on the occasion of volunteering in the political campaign, or even when expressing opinion on the elections process in general. Such violations ranged from the arbitrary arrest of a large number of al-Tantawi’s campaigns to hindering citizens from making the powers of the attorney by bullying and intimidation actions in the vicinity of public notary offices. These actions would, at times, go unrestrained by the police or even before their eyes and could escalate to beating a good number of such citizens and the coercion by some public agencies of their staff to go and vote in the ballot stations.
In this context, EIPR documented the imprisonment of at least 127 members of Tantawi’s campaign against similar charges in cases 2123/ 2023, 2124/ 2023, 2125/ 2023, 191/ 2023, and 2255/ 2023.
EIPR affirms that the judgment is but an extension of the violations experienced during the recent presidential elections and a continuation of the intimidation of activists and citizens desiring to uphold their Constitutional rights to participate in political life in general. EIPR warns against this serious inclination to entangle the administration and the judiciary for settling myopic political differences.