Egypt death sentence relatives react after verdict

The relatives of the 1,211 defendants stood in shock as they were told about the verdicts. Some of them screamed, others cried, and a third group fainted.

Egypt death sentence relatives react after verdict

World Bulletin / News Desk

Screams and angry shouts filled the air outside a courthouse in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya on Monday, shortly after a judge sentenced 37 local residents to death on charges of attacking police stations.

The relatives of the convicted defendants, believed to be supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, were shocked by the ruling and even called for sentencing the judge himself to death.

"I won't accept less than a death sentence for him," Zeinab Mohamed, the relative of one of the convicted defendants, told Anadolu Agency outside the court. "This judge is politically-motivated," she added.

The same judge also sentenced 683 more Morsi backers, including Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, to the mufti, Egypt's top religious official, in anticipation of possible death sentences against them.

In Egypt, the opinion of the mufti is not binding for court judges, which means that an initial sentence can be endorsed even if the mufti disagreed with the judge's ruling.

The death sentences against the 37 defendants came after the court had consulted the mufti to consider possible death sentences for 528 defendants.

The court opted to give 37 defendants only death sentences while handing down life sentences (25 years of imprisonment) to 491 on the same charges.

The relatives of the 1,211 defendants stood in shock as they were told about the verdicts. Some of them screamed, others cried, and a third group fainted.

Mohamed, the 25-year-old woman, said her brother was unjustifiably arrested after the attacks on the police stations. She did not know whether he is among the 37 defendants whose death sentences were confirmed on Monday.

"I won't rest before this judge is sentenced to death," Mohamed said.

"The death sentence isn't enough for him," Naglaa, a relative of another defendant interrupted, referring to the judge.

"He must be executed, never to be allowed to defend himself," she added.

Nagalaa, carrying her little children in her hands, arrived at the court to know the fate of her husband who was arrested weeks ago in connection with the trial.

Other defendants' relatives called the judge "unfair" and others called him "politically-motivated".

Even with this, the judge set June 21 as a date for issuing his ruling in the case of the 683 defendants after the mufti opines on the case.

But outside the court, there was little hope that the ruling in June will be much different from the one the judge issued on Monday.

In an early reaction from a Western government, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter that the mass trials were an "outrage". "The world must and will react!"

There have been Western reactions to Egypt's approach to dissent. But it mostly comes in the form of statements, not action.

Egypt's relations with the United States - the source of $1.5 billion in annual aid, most of it to the Egyptian military - have been strained in the three years since the overthrow of Mubarak.

Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy is currently on an official visit to the United States, describing it as a trip to "redirect relations between Egypt and America".

Last Mod: 28 Nisan 2014, 14:49
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