thetimes.co.uk/ Egypt confirms death sentences of 183 men

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SHAFAQNA – An Egyptian court has confirmed the death sentences against 183 men convicted of killing 11 police officers and two civilians.The policemen were killed in an attack on a police station after the deaths of pro-Morsi supporters at the hands of security forces.Mobile phone footage showed the armed mob storming the station in Kerdasa, an Islamist stronghold on the outskirts of Cairo, on August 14, 2013.

The only survivor of the attack, a recruit in his twenties, said that they had been stabbed and had acid thrown at them.

The decision to uphold the sentence was condemned by the European Union, which denounced it as a violation of the country’s human rights obligations. The verdict came as another court announced that Mohamed Morsi, the deposed Islamist president, would stand trial on February 15 in an espionage case — the fourth trial he is facing.

The attack took place on the same day that security forces killed hundreds of demonstrators in clashes as they dismantled two massive protest camps in Cairo supporting Morsi.

The court issued a preliminary verdict in December against 188 defendants in a mass trial, of whom two were acquitted on Monday while one, a minor, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Two more were already deceased.

The verdict – which can be appealed against – came after the initial sentences were sent to the grand mufti, the government’s official interpreter of Islamic law, for ratification.

Since the army deposed Mr Morsi on July 3, 2013, at least 1,400 people have been killed in a police crackdown on protests, mostly Islamists supporting the ousted leader.

Hundreds of his supporters have been sentenced to death in swift mass trials which the United Nations says were “unprecedented in recent history”.

“Today’s decision of a court in Egypt to sentence 183 defendants to death following a mass trial is in violation of Egypt’s international human rights obligations,” the EU’s foreign service said in a statement.

Jen Psaki, a US state department spokeswoman, said the United States was “deeply concerned” by the decision.

“It simply seems impossible that a fair review of evidence and testimony could be achieved through mass trials,” she said.

Rights groups and critics of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who ousted Morsi, say the authorities are using the judiciary as an arm to repress any form of dissent, including from secular activists.

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