- January 5, 2018
- 9 minutes read
Urgent statement by Egypt’s Former Justice Minister Ahmed Suleiman to Stop Unjust Executions
Statement by Egypt’s former Justice Minister Judge Ahmed Suleiman:
The ruling regime in Egypt despises the law and the Constitution, holds no regard for both, and is obsessed with overwhelming desire to eliminate its opponents. Egyptian civil and military judiciary witnesses an unprecedented ordeal as it violates the provisions of law publicly and deliberately; denies defense attorneys due rights; and in many trials, issues death sentences and life prison terms against hundreds of the regime opponents without a legally admissible evidence and based on government investigations alone.
Thus, the public confidence in the judiciary has been shaken at home and abroad, and international human rights organizations consider this Egyptian judiciary as the regime’s tool of vendetta, based the following evidence:
First, since the coup, many Egyptians have been imprisoned for crimes that are not punishable by law. For example a young boy was arrested for carrying a ruler with the Rabi’a sit-in slogan, and the teen who spent two years in prison for wearing a T-shirt saying “a homeland without torture”, in addition to similar other cases.
Also, the prosecution brings defendants to court trials in cases that had been proven incorrect and lacked due evidence such as the case of sewage vents blockage in Alexandria, in which Muslim Brotherhood members were accused and tried although the Alexandria governorate stated that the sewage vents are clogged due to cement blocks dumping during the construction of a number of social clubs nearby, nearly twenty years ago. However, some 33 defendants were brought before the military court, which sentenced 12 of them to life, while 21 defendants received15 years prison sentence.
Second, the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights (a government body) has cited, in several reports, that the main problem lies in the expansion of remand decisions, which in itself represents an irreparable punishment that cannot be compensated, and some reports indicate that the renewal of remand occurs in the absence of the accused, a violation of law that cannot be overlooked by the authority of remand renewal.
Third, the existing authority adopts the method of falsifying investigations as an instrument of vendetta against anyone that it wishes to retaliate against. The satellite channel, Mikamileen, has broadcast a recording for the national security officer who wrote the investigation minutes of the Al Ittihadiyyah presidential headquarter events case. He admits that the investigation report was all his own ideas to “get rid of President Morsi and his group”. Furthermore, the investigations of two other cases known in the media as: "Judges of the Election Statement" and "Judges for Egypt," contained false accounts and unfounded facts. The accused judges challenged them with forgery before disciplinary boards, and filed two notices to the Attorney-General office which were investigated neither by the prosecutor nor by the disciplinary boards. Dozens of judges were dismissed from their positions based on these falsified investigations.
Fourth, the “Terrorism Courts” were formed so certain judges can be appointed to adjudicate specific cases, and many of them were under scrutiny, however, investigations into their lack of integrity were closed before they were appointed by the regime. Many of them have failed to abide by the rules of law and guarantees of fair trials. Examples are:
Judge Said Yousef, in both cases of “storming Al ‘Adwa and Matai police stations” rejected motion by the defense to recuse him from the case, and refused to hear the defense’s arguments. The judge adjudicated the two cases, each of which involves more than 500 individuals, in few hours and in only two sessions, sentencing all defendants to death.
Judge Sherine Fahmy adjudicated Adel Habbara’s case by himself, without the other two members of the circuit and sentenced to all defendants to death, a flagrant violation of law that indicates the extent of the Judge’s aggression and arrogance.
Judge Ahmed Gamal Eddine ‘Abd Al Lateef ordered his court clerks not to receive or register a report that recuses him from the case.
Judge Ayman ‘Abbas, member of disciplinary boards for judges accused in "Judges of the Election Statement" and "Judges for Egypt," cases prevented clerks from registering a challenge filed by the accused judges, such procedures are all null and void as they are not based, in any way, on any law, but fulfill desires of the existing authority.
Fifth, many judges have become more interested in appeasing the regime, whether to gain its approval or to avoid its wrath and retaliation. Their rulings speak of their submission to the political regime, such as the court of urgent matters ruling that classify Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist group although the same court refused to adjudicate a similar case with respect to Israel citing its lack of jurisdiction. Both ruling are issued by the same court but both rulings further the political regime desires. Also, the same court ruled to block an administrative court ruling that nullified the signing of the marine border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that it does not have jurisdiction over the case according to the Constitution; a violation that is not due to misinterpretation of the law, but due to the corruption and flaw of the judge who made his goal is only to please the ruler.
Sixth: Many judges excessively rule with the maximum punishment prescribed by law without any legal basis, whether the penalty is death or life imprisonment. In the case of “storming the Matai police station”, Judge Said Yousef sentenced 37 defendants to death and 394 to life imprisonment. The ruling was later revoked by the higher court, and 238 of those defendants were acquitted in a retrial. The widow of the slain deputy commander of the police station stated that the convicted defendants were not the ones who killed her husband and that his murderers are still at large.
In the case of Kerdasa, Judge Nagy Shehata sentenced 183 defendants to death, a ruling that was later revoked because it was based merely on police inquiry. After retrial, the appeal court only sentenced 20 defendants to death, acquitted 21 defendants who were originally sentenced to death, and the rest were sentenced to life or temporary imprisonment.
In the “Rabaa Operation Room” case, the court sentenced 14 defendants to death and 37 defendants to life, the ruling was revoked and 21 were acquitted.
In criminal case no. 58 for the year 2015, the military court adjudicated a case where 116 defendants were charged with killing of 4 people and the attempted murder of 8 others, attacking public facilities, and the use of force and violence against the police and the army. All 116 defendants were sentenced to life, including a 4-year-old toddler Ahmed Korany Shararah, whose defense presented his birth certificate to the court and prosecution; and Samir ‘Abd Al Rahim who was abroad when the incident took place and his defense presented a copy of his passport
In criminal case no. 5192 for the year 2015, Al Dokki, the court sentenced 11 defendants to death and14 others to life; the court convicted a number of defendants, including ‘Abd Al Rahman Mohamed Hassan, based on the police inquiry only and sentenced him to death.
I firmly believe that if these and other trials were conducted in normal circumstances, the rulings were not going to be so terrible.
Seventh: The pro-coup media outlets adopt publicly the call to kill demonstrators immediately, and for the police to do that instead of arresting the accused and wasting time in the trials, as it happened to Al Matariyya demonstrations. Media also calls for the killing of defendants, even if the police were able to arrest them, as it happened in the killing of Dr. Mohamed Kamal and Yasser Shehata, just to name a few.
The above matters clearly reveal that the regime seeks to avenge from its political opponents and all those who oppose it, either by extrajudicial killings or by death sentences in courts. During this period, courts lack fair trial guarantees and deliberately violate the law to reach the rulings that satisfy the regime, even if there was no evidence other than the police inquiry reports, to issue death sentences, which is very serious to the defendants, justice, and the judiciary.
Domestic and international criticism of the judiciary and court system did not manage to rein in the revenge machine or to stop the nationwide bleeding in Egypt, sometimes by a shot from an officer, and at other times, by a court ruling of a military or a civilian judge, based on no legally admissible evidence.
Therefore, I call for the need to issue a law to stop the implementation of the death penalty temporarily to save innocent lives that may be unjustly killed.
May God save Egypt from the abyss of the coup.