Egypt Kangaroo Court Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters to Death

Medea Benjamin, March 24, 2014

The Egyptian court has just handed down one of the most grotesque sentences in Egyptian history, condemning 529 people to death in one fell swoop. The US State Department said it was "shocked" and that the verdict defies logic. “While appeals are possible, it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony consistent with international standards could be accomplished with over 529 defendants after a two-day trial,” a State Department official said. Amnesty International issued a condemnation, and CODEPINK has launched a campaign to pressure the Egyptian government to overturn the verdict and respect political dissent.

The court sentenced supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi for their alleged role in the murder of a single police officer in the southern city of Minya last August. In addition to the murder, the 529 defendants were accused of attempting to kill two other police officers and attacking a police station. The incident occurred after the military overthrew President Morsi in July 2013 and violently broke up two pro-Morsi encampments in Cairo, leaving nearly 1,000 people dead and arresting some 16,000 people, including most of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.

The court held two sessions. In the first session, the judge angrily shouted down requests by defense lawyers for more time to review the prosecution’s case. In the second session, the judge barred defense lawyers from even entering the courtroom. “We didn’t have the chance to say a word or to look at more than 3,000 pages of investigation to see what evidence they are talking about,” attorney Khaled el-Koumi told The Associated Press.

A senior official involved in courtroom security, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that 154 defendants were in the courtroom in a cage, and upon hearing the verdict, screamed at the judge "You butcher!" The rest of the defendants were tried in absentia.

The group is among some 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters on trial; a second group of 683 Morsi supporters is due to go on trial on March 25, including the leader of the group, Mohamed Badie, and the head of its political wing, Saad al-Katatny.

Since the overthrow of Morsi, Egypt has been wracked by militant bombings, suicide attacks and other assaults targeting police and military forces. The authorities have blamed the Brotherhood for the violence, branding it a terrorist organization, confiscating its assets and exposing its members and supporters to harsh sentences under anti-terrorism laws. But al-Qaeda-inspired group Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis has taken credit for many of the attacks. The Brotherhood has denied any links and has denounced the violence, and the regime has not produced any evidence linking the Brotherhood to the attacks.

Death sentences of this magnitude in a single case makes Egypt surpass most other countries’ use of capital punishment in a year. “This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

Human rights lawyers say the verdicts are subject to appeal and are likely be overturned. But many worry that the verdict, which has angered millions of Morsi supporters, will compel some Brotherhood members to take up violence, a move that will justify an even heavier crackdown.

Another indication of the political nature of Egypt’s courts is the fact that they have ignored gross human rights violations by the security forces. Just one police officer is facing a prison sentence, for the deaths of 37 detainees. No one else is being held responsible for the deaths of hundreds of peaceful protesters or the torture of prisoners. At least 16,000 political dissidents have been arrested since the overthrow of Morsi and many of those imprisoned have been tortured by the authorities.

CODEPINK has launched a campaign for human rights in Egypt, including protests at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington DC, and petitions targeting the Egyptian government and the US State Department.

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange. She is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.




21 Responses to “Egypt Kangaroo Court Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters to Death”

  1. The Egyptian military receives a billion and a half from the US Treasury every year, as a result of Camp David.

    This aid is enabling this massive miscarriage of justice in Egypt; America is financing, arming and defending the murderous junta that seized power from the democratically elected government.

    The US is a big fan of self-determination and democracy, so long as the results benefit our national interests. When election results produce an unfavorable outcome, we back the military juntas that annul the election results.

    We are world-class hypocrites, still, some Americans wonder why so many people, especially Muslims, seem to hate our guts.

  2. that's our buddy all right, the Egyptian military – they stepped up to the plate just like we've encouraged them to and now when they followed the tone of our approach we disown them for going beyond the imaginary line we never painted ! Yeah, this is our baby !

    (they'll probably end up commuting 500 of the sentences in order to get away with executing 30 of them)

  3. The only appropriate response, if the sentence is seen through, would be to cut all aid and diplomatic ties with Egypt: if America actually stood for the human rights and freedom it champions so loudly when the offender is a non ally nation. Obviously that wont happen since the u.s government couldn't care less about ethics, law, freedom, rights etc. when it is not in their interest, militarily and geopolitically. America is an enabler of this affront to freedom and is complicit in its undertaking. They'll condemn the action publicly, but business will continue as usual.

  4. This has KSA written all over it. KSA recently sentenced Muslim Brotherhood members to death. Now they're ordering Egypt, their puppet state, to do it as well.

    The Saudi royal family is deathly afraid of political Islam, and they should be. It alone has the ability to drive their backwards monarchy out of the Middle East.

    On the bright side it's getting harder and harder for all the hipster "democratic military coup" people in the West to pretend like they're being progressive.

  5. Remember the United Arab Republic! Islamist mercenary terrorist wars are now going on in Syria and Libya; Egypt is at war.
    —Bob Ficalora

  6. It's a good thing U.S. GovCo supported the overthrow of the tyrant Morsi. Imagine the carnage HE would have inflicted…

  7. 529 dissidents sentenced to death for killing a single police officer; but nobody has been charged with any crime for the murderous crackdown on the pro-Morsi demonstrators; hundreds of people were literally bulldozed to death.

    If the US keeps honoring the Camp David Accords, in spite of the fact that a military junta has violently seized power in Egypt, our duplicity will once again be exposed to the entire world.

    Of course, with Morsi et al. in power, Egypt would have sunk into the morass of Islamic theocracy, Sharia Law and Muslim fundamentalism.

    Looks like a no-win situation for the Egyptian people… and a no-win situation for the USA.

  8. […] via Antiwar […]

  9. […] Egypt Kangaroo Court Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters to Death « Antiwar.com Blog. […]

  10. Doubtless actor's motives, actual or imputed, remain obscure to the uninformed.

    My partially informed guess as to the motives behind continued U.S. military aid to Egypt (and Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain, etc.) is that bases/ducks must be in rows before the next grand conflagration begins. Flash points abound, and we, the proud citizens of the U.S., obviously need a few more good reasons to fatten the wallets/paychecks of the elite warmongers. We're not convinced yet, but that can be fixed. Jeez, even our friends are enemies! Only we (and the Jewish State of Israel) are righteous, just, and democratic!

    Nobody in Iran has ever had a "western" thought. Let's bomb them to save them. They'll come around. And religion has nothing to do with it, except as the critical psy-op wedge to splinter the greater middle east and … and the U.S. polity.

    If religion is used/manipulated as a tool for war/conflict, then the U.S. founding fathers were correct.

  11. 529 Morsi supporters to die. Wow, the Obama regime must be ever so proud.

  12. If it were not for modern cameras and communications, Egypt's junta would be burying tens of thousands of Morsi supporters in trenches. The junta is no better than the worst totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

  13. Truly off the charts badness to be sure, but it plays well in Texas.

  14. Brings to mind the mass execution of native Americans and half breeds ( about 330 males) ordered by Lincoln in December 1862 to be hung in mass in Mankato , MN. Today this tyrant is revered as one of the greatest presidents because he saved the union, just as we are now are trying to save the unity of Ukraine.
    His face should be blasted off Mount Rushmore as an act of revenge by the native Americans.

  15. "Great" State of Texas, I think that you have some serious competition here……………..Time to step up your game Ricky-Dicky Perry…………………

  16. It appears that Egypt was in better shape under Mubarek than it is now. Hillary and Obama said that Mubarek (our ally for 30 years) had to go and initially supported Morsi. Another prime example of US intervention making things much worse.

  17. HOW MANY EGYPTIANS CAN THE MILITARY JUNTA KILL WITH 47 TRILLION::

    AMERIKA STAND FOR HUMAN RIGHTS? WHAT PLANET HAVE YOU BEEN ON SINCE 1787?

    I say Obama and Grandma Yellen conduct a little experiment. How many Egyptians can the Junta kill given Wall Street banker bailout style handouts? Increase the aid for every 100,000 Egyptians executed until you reach 47 TRILLION and see who, if anyone, is left standing…………………..

  18. Peace
    Hopefully, you are only grossly mistaken, and not deliberately deceitful.

    38 were executed.
    " A military tribunal had sentenced 303 to death. President Lincoln reviewed the record and pardoned 265, believing they had been involved in legitimate defense against military forces."

  19. Jamal Mubarak still runs zayed 'Mafia GCCorpz..carterBOYZ r OFF on Msr and OOn Ucrain..Banderz F…play:sisiHEAD or Nothing.

  20. […] first round of executions, ordered Monday, covered 529 pro-Morsi protesters, ordered killed as “terrorists” because a protest led to the death of a single junta police […]

  21. […] Kangaroo Court sentences 529 Morsi supporters to Death ~ link ~ Real freedom of expression … NOT.  Stirling […]