Egypt’s Justice Ministry Says Condemnation of Death Sentences is ‘Inadmissible’

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Egypt’s justice ministry on Tuesday rejected the local and international reaction to the previous day’s mass death sentence for 683 people, describing the massive public outcry as “inadmissible.”

An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced the chief of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and 682 of the group’s supporters to death, a further escalation in the government’s crackdown on the movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. Their charges included inciting violence in the period after Morsi’s ouster last summer.

The same court in the southern governorate of Minya on Monday also overturned 492 of 529 death sentences it had handed down in March. The remaining defendants were jailed for life, according to judicial sources.

Monday’s sentences sparked a flurry of condemnation from rights campaigners and the international community. The United Nations called the verdict “outrageous” while Washington said it was “deeply troubled” by a sentence that “defies even the most basic standards of international justice.”

However, Egypt’s justice ministry dismissed the accusations, arguing in a statement that “among the basic principles of a democratic system is the separation between authorities and assertion of the independence of judiciary … and the inadmissibility of commenting on court rulings, whether from internal or foreign interlocutors.”

The justice ministry – which regulates Egypt’s courts and prosecution – said that those convicted on Monday had been prosecuted in a civil tribunal and had not been subjected to an exceptional trial.

The ministry’s press head Abdel-Azim El-Ashry further clarified the rulings in a statement on Tuesday.

The judge in the case gave a “decision and not a ruling” to pass the case on to the country’s Grand Mufti, the highest Islamic authority, for consultation, El-Ashry said.

Defendants handed a death sentence can appeal the verdict, he said.

The public prosecution can also appeal the ruling, even if the defendants do not file an appeal, and the country’s cassation court can choose to reverse the ruling and refer it to another judicial district for a retrial, in which the defendants can request a second appeal, or the cassation court can uphold the verdict, according to El-Ashry.

Only 70 of the defendants in the case involving Badie are in custody, defence lawyer Khaled El-Komy told Ahram Online.

The others have a right to a retrial if they turn themselves in, El-Komy said.

Source: Ahram Online

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