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Military governor upholds death sentences for 14 defendants in military trial

Death sentences handed to 14 defendants in a military trial in December 2017 have been upheld, Alexandria Military Court officials told defense lawyers on Tuesday.

Lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer told Mada Masr that Egypt’s military governor confirmed the death sentences in Military Case 108 on August 11.

In the initial verdict, 14 defendants were sentenced to death, four of whom were sentenced in absentia, according to a statement issued by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) last December.

Convicted defendants who were not sentenced in absentia may appeal the verdict within 60 days of the date the sentence was upheld, according to Baqer.

The court first ruled on the case — a trial involving 59 defendants accused of involvement in 27 separate incidents that took place in Alexandria in 2014 and 2015 — on December 17, 2017.

In addition to the 14 defendants who received death sentences in the case, 37 defendants were sentenced to life in prison (13 of whom were sentenced in absentia) and five to 15-year prison sentences. Two defendants were found innocent, and charges were dropped for one defendant who died.

Seven defendants in the case, according to the EIPR, were already being held in remand detention as part of another case when the incidents they were accused of took place.

The defendants were convicted of a range of charges, including joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, involvement in a criminal conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, attempted murder and possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Authorities have executed 27 people since last December, amid a spike in the number of capital punishments carried out in recent years and increasing debate in civil society surrounding the use of the death penalty in Egypt.

Most of the executions were in relation to political violence cases, except four, which were in criminal cases, Mada Masr reported.

In a January statement, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner demanded that Egypt halts executions until investigations into allegations of unfair trials have concluded.

Thirteen Egyptian human rights organizations sent a petition to the UN secretary general, requesting his immediate intervention to prevent the implementation of 26 death sentences in trials they referred to as “unfair” due to political bias or lack of due process.

AD