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The culprits of the Rabaa Massacre sentence the victims to death

Egypt has sentenced 75 prominent members or affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to death and delivered verdicts for a further 739 in a mass trial over the Rabaa massacre. Amnesty International described the trial as “a grotesque parody of justice.” [1] The defendants had originally been arrested 5 years earlier during the brutal dispersal of the peaceful Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque sit-in protest.

In 2013, Egyptians, loyal to the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, staged a sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, in Cairo. The peaceful sit-in lasted 45 days with some 85,000 people in attendance.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi staged a military coup on 3rd July which ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected leader. The protest in support of President Morsi continued, but just weeks after they had begun, Sisi ordered a crackdown. Security forces loyal to Sisi attacked the sit-in with armoured vehicles and bulldozers in the early hours of the morning killing at least 817 peaceful protesters.

This act was seen by many as a crime against humanity equal to, or worse than, that of the infamous Tiananmen square.[2] Human rights watch described the brutal crackdown as: “likely crimes against humanity”. [3]

However, Sisi has granted amnesty to the security forces which killed the unarmed protestors. Amnesty International commented:

“The fact that not a single police officer has been brought to account for the killing of at least 900 people in the Rabaa and Nahda protests shows what a mockery of justice this trial was.” [4]

The verdict, by judge Hassan Farid el-Shami, was announced on Saturday in Cairo’s heavily fortified Tora prison courthouse. Among those who received death sentences were senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian, politician Mohamed el-Beltagy, former youth minister Osama Yassin and Abdel-Rahman el-Barr. The court also sentenced the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme leader, Mohammed Badie, in addition to 46 others, to life in prison.

The process has taken so long that five defendants have died in prison awaiting trial. An Amnesty International representative commented:

“This raises an important point, which is the practice of prolonged pre-trial detention, which is so commonplace in the Egyptian legal system and effectively [renders] defendants in Egypt guilty until proven otherwise”. [5]

A female relative of former youth minister, Osama Yassin who had also been sentenced to death said the verdicts were:

“absurd and unfair … They were the ones getting killed in Rabaa, yet they are the ones now being tried and given death sentences.” [6]

The former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, described Sisi’s bloody military coup as a “restoration of democracy”. [7] Quite how the US would describe the mass trial and sentencing to death of protestors remains to be seen. However, with Sisi seeking to extend his two-term limit,[8] it seems the US sanctioned “democracy” in Egypt is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

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(Cited by Al-Hasan al-Basri)

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About Dr Izzadeen Chowdhury

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