Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the highest appeals court, has upheld the death sentence handed down to 13 defendants on a charge of murder and committing acts of violence, raising the number of final death sentences to 65 Egyptians on the death row.
The ruling is final and may not be appealed, which means that they may be executed at any time unless Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issues an amnesty to pardon them.
According to Egyptian law, once a death sentence is final, the defendant’s file is referred to the president via the Minister of Justice. If the president does not issue a pardon to the defendant or change the sentence within 14 days, the sentence is carried out. The convicts are:
1- Belal Ibrahim Sobhy
2- Mohamed Saber Ramadan Nasr
3- Gamal Zaki Abdel Rahim Saad
4- Abdallah El-Sayed Mohamed El-Sayed
5- Yasser Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Khudair
6- Saad Abdel Rauf Saad Mohamed
7- Saad Ahmed Tawfiq Hassan
8- Mahmoud Saber Ramadan Nasr
9- Samir Ibrahim Saad Mostafa
10- Islam Suleiman Shehata Suleiman
11- Mohamed Adel Abdel-Hamid Hassan
12- Mohamed Hassan Ezz El-Din Mohamed Hassan
13- Tag Eddin Hawash Mohamed Hemeida
While 13 defendants were handed death sentences, 17 were given life imprisonment, two others were handed 15 years in prison, 7 to a five-year imprisonment and 5 were acquitted.
In July 2015, the country’s Prosecutor General referred the 13 men for a criminal trial over accusations including “committing acts of violence and killing six police officers” as well as membership in the terrorist organization Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt). The defendants deny the charges.
Ajnad Misr emerged in the wake of the 2013 military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The group launched attacks on police and military sites in North Sinai and other areas in Egypt. In 2014, the US State Department placed the group on its “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” list.
Human rights groups and activists have repeatedly criticized Egypt’s use of the death penalty. Since March 2015, the authorities have executed scores of defendants who had been sentenced to death in court cases, in addition to extrajudicial killings that the authorities claim took place in exchange of fire situations with terrorists.