Egypt: Shocking Death Sentences Follow Sham Trial
On April 23 2014, Obama’s administration has approved the shipment of Apache attack helicopters to the military junta that rules Egypt. The decision was communicated to the military regime April 22 by defense secretary Chuck Hagel in a phone call to the Egyptian minister of defense, General Sedki Sobhy.Hagel also told his Egyptian counterpart that US Secretary of State John Kerry will soon certify to Congress that “Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship and is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” These certifications are required under US law to permit the continuation of US military aid.The ten Apache helicopters are “in support of Egypt’s counterterrorism operations in the Sinai,” according to a Pentagon press release, but there is no restriction on their use once the weapons are in Egyptian hands. The murderous gunships can be redeployed from strafing restive Bedouin tribesmen along the border with Israel to massacring demonstrators in cities like Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.The US will continue to withhold certain weapons, including F-16 fighter jets, M-1 tanks and Harpoon missiles, whose shipment has been suspended since the July 2013 coup that overthrew the elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The vast majority of defendants were tried in absentia, took place in under an hour. The prosecution did not put forward evidence implicating any individual defendant, even though it had compiled significant evidence during its investigations and the court prevented defense lawyers from presenting their case or calling witnesses, three of the defense lawyers told Human Rights Watch. A second summary session was held two days later solely to announce the verdict.It’s shocking even amid Egypt’s deep political repression that a court has sentenced 529 people to death without giving them any meaningful opportunity to defend themselves. The Minya court failed to carry out its most fundamental duty to assess the individual guilt of each defendant, violating the most basic fair trial right. These death sentences should be immediately quashed.Human Rights Watch.