Egyptian authorities have executed seven men for their alleged involvement in the killing of a police officer in the Ismailia governorate in 2013.
“The prison service on Tuesday carried out the sentence of death by hanging against seven people convicted of killing Captain Ahmad Abu Douma,” the security official told AFP.
Their bodies had been handed to their families, he added.
Abu Douma had been on patrol in Ismailiya, close to the Suez Canal, when he came under fire by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike and in a car, who seized his weapon.
According to human rights activist Ahmed El-Attar, the men were accused of fighting another gang in the street when a plain clothes police officer intervened to try and stop the shooting and one of the men shot him.
One of them, Essam Atta, published a letter on Facebook two years ago to say he was tortured to extract confessions, including threats to rape his mother and his sister.
In 2018 the Court of Cassation dismissed the defendants’ appeals and upheld the death sentence against them. Rights groups have said they were not given a fair trial.
Since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise to power in 2013 there have been an unprecedented number of death sentences in Egypt.
Last year, Egypt ranked sixth on the list of countries that carried out the most executions in 2018.
Between January 2014 and February 2018 courts recommended the death sentence for at least 2,159 individuals and carried out 83 of them.
Between 2011 and 2013 one person was executed. Ten children have been sentenced to death under Sisi’s rule.
In February, eight Egyptians were executed after being accused of attacking three Coptic churches and a police checkpoint that killed 88 people in 2017.
Several of the detainees were forcibly disappeared and tortured to obtain false confessions.
Soaring numbers of executions have come after the increase of mass trials which see multiple defendants being sentenced to death at the same time.
Death sentences after a mass trial are illegal under international law.
In December last year Egyptian authorities executed three people convicted of terror-related charges, without informing their families.
In June 2017 Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld death sentences against six men they accused of murdering a police guard after a deeply flawed trial. They were tortured to obtain videotaped confessions, the first time many of their families knew where they were or had heard from them since their disappearance.
They were raped, given electric shocks on the genitals, threatened that their mothers and sisters would be raped, and suspended in stress positions for up to four days and burnt with cigarette