Authorities executed four people in Borg al-Arab Prison on Tuesday convicted of carrying out a 2015 bombing, according to lawyer Ezzat Ghoneim. A fifth detainee charged in a separate criminal case, whose identity lawyers were unable to disclose, was also executed.
Ezzat, who represents the detainees charged with the bombing, told Mada Masr that the families were not informed of the executions ahead of time, and were not allowed a final visitation as is stipulated in Egypt’s criminal procedure code.
Defense lawyer Osama Bayoumi had submitted a request to the General Prosecutor in August 2017 requesting the executions be halted, claiming that new evidence had surfaced proving the defendants’ innocence. A detainee in a separate case had named his accomplice Medhat as the perpetrator of the attack.
An Alexandria military court sentenced seven people to death in March 2016, three in absentia, charged with carrying out a bombing in Kafr al-Sheikh in April 2015, which targeted buses carrying military students and killed two. The court also handed life sentences to five others, three in absentia. The defendants appealed the sentences, but the Supreme Military Court upheld the verdict in June 2017.
In a report published following the 2016 verdict, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights documented severe violations against the defendants, including prolonged periods of forced disappearance and the use of torture to elicit confessions.
According to the EIPR, five defendants were forcibly disappeared for 76 days before reappearing in Tanta Prison. Several detainees in the case leaked letters from prison providing testimonies of the torture that security personnel subjected them to. Lotfy Ibrahim Khalil and Ahmed Abdel Moneim Salama recounted being suspended from a wooden stick by their hands and legs and being electrocuted.
On December 26, authorities executed 15 people convicted of killing military officers in North Sinai in 2013 among a slew of other charges. Families of the detainees were also not informed of the executions ahead of time or permitted final visitations, according to rights groups.
The executions came days after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asserted that the state would “respond to terrorist groups with brute force” in the wake of an armed attack on the Arish military airport on December 19 during a visit by state officials.