Amnesty calls Egypt's 183 death sentences 'outrageous'
Amnesty International termed Monday the handing down of death sentences to 183 people in Egypt as outrageous and called for quashing the verdicts.

"Today’s death sentences are yet another example of the bias of the Egyptian criminal justice system," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme director at Amnesty International, said.

Sahraoui called for giving the convicts a trial that met international standards of fairness and excluded the death penalty.

The defendants -- many of whom were supporters of ousted elected president Mohamed Morsi -- were convicted of storming a Kerdasa police station and killing 11 police officers in mid-2013 following Morsi's ouster by the military.

"The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment in all circumstances. To impose death when there are serious doubts hanging over the fairness of the trial is outrageous and flouts international law," he said.

Last December, the court referred the defendants -- along with five others -- to Egypt's grand mufti, the country's top religious authority, to consider possible death sentences against them.

The families and public were not allowed to attend the trial which, Sahraoui said, breached national and international law. "Holding the trial in a prison complex undermined the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair and public hearing."

The attack on the Kerdasa police station in 2013 came shortly after Egyptian security forces violently dispersed two major sit-ins staged by Morsi supporters in Cairo, killing hundreds of protesters in the process.

Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader, was ousted by the army last year -- and later imprisoned on a raft of criminal charges -- following mass rallies against his presidency.

In late 2013, the government designated Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group a "terrorist organization."

The Brotherhood, for its part, insists it is committed to purely peaceful activism.

Also, Amnesty International reiterated its call for the dismissal of cases against Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Australian journalist Peter Greste.

"The continuing plight of Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy must not be forgotten as their colleague Peter Greste is deported from Egypt," Amnesty International said. Greste was deported from Egypt Sunday.
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Last Modified: 2015-02-03 10:47:37
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