Alexandria’s military court issued harsh sentences against 16 civilian defendants on Wednesday in light of a bomb attack in Kafr al-Sheikh City that resulted in the deaths of three military cadets in April 2015.
Seven of the civilian defendants were sentenced to death, five others were sentenced to life imprisonment and two were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, while two others were sentenced to three years in prison.
In keeping with legal and religious protocols regarding preliminary death sentences, this military court referred the cases of the seven executions to Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam who, according to the state-owned Al-Akhbar news portal, approved their sentences on Wednesday afternoon. The mufti’s religious opinion is obligatory, but his decisions are not binding.
Al-Akhbar reported that of the seven sentenced to death, four were present before the military tribunal, while three others were sentenced in absentia.
The case traces back to a the planting of a bomb on a bus due to transport three cadets near the Kafr al-Sheikh Sports Stadium in April. Some of those involved in planting the explosive device, according to Al-Akhbar, were alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s former political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
An elder family member of one of the defendants sentenced to death, Lotfi Ibrahim, speaking to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, said that his relative is innocent and has no links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Even if we suppose that he was an FJP member, does this mean he should be held in solitary confinement for months on end, stand trial before a military court, and then be sentenced to death for a crime which he did not commit? Was Italian student [Giulio Regeni] a member of the FJP or the Brotherhood? No. So why was he tortured to death?” he said. “This is an unjust sentencing.”
“We denounce the deaths of the three cadets. God knows they are like our own children. All bloodshed is sinful, and they are martyrs with God now. Their blood is as precious to us as that of our own children. We hope that their families can cope with this tragic loss, and we offer them our sincerest condolences,” the relative added.
He revealed that Ibrahim is a 22-year-old construction worker, employed by a private firm located nearly two kilometers from the Kafr al-Sheikh Stadium.
“We have 20 witnesses who have testified that Ibrahim was present at his work from morning to nightfall on the day of the incident. Prosecutors could not bring forth a single witness to testify that Ibrahim was even remotely involved. He may have been arrested with others in a collective roundup, and accused of committing this crime,” he stated. “Confessions have been extracted from Ibrahim over the past 76 days. He has been held in solitary confinement, and his family have not been able to visit him even once since his arrest.”
Ibrahim’s relative added that their lawyer is seeking to appeal the verdict within 60 days. “I just want to say the real culprits to be identified, and that Ibrahim be released. Civilians should not be subjected to such ill-treatment in detention, and no civilian should stand trial before a military trial. There is no real justice for civilians before such exceptional courts.”