Court annuls 6 death sentences in Kerdasa case, orders retrial

An appeals court on Monday annulled the death sentences handed to six defendants for the alleged killing of 14 people in Giza in August 2013, and ordered a retrial, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

The six are among 183 defendants who received death sentences, 149 of who were present in court last February and 34 in absentia. The defendants were accused of breaking into Kerdasa police station in Giza and killing the sheriff, his deputy and 12 others, including officers, soldiers and passersby, whose bodies were then mutilated and paraded through the streets.

The sentence was originally handed to 188 defendants in December 2014. Of the remaining five, one was sentenced to 10 years in prison, two were acquitted and two had passed away before the ruling.

The six defendants for whom a retrial was ordered on Monday were among those sentenced to death in absentia in the original trial, but they weren’t arrested until later on. After their apprehension, they were tried and sentenced to death in May, which they then appealed.

Previous reports by state media however originally claimed there were only five defendants.

The attack occurred on August 14, 2013, the same day as the violent dispersals of two pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins at Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Squares.

The sentences were referred to the Mufti for ratification in December, whereby he concluded that all the evidence against the defendants was not enough to definitively prove their guilt on murder charges.

He added that the charges stemmed from a coordinated attack that implicated the defendants in different ways. Some of them, he maintained, had committed murder, while others had stolen items, committed arson or stood watch. Some of the accused also allegedly blocked the road to prevent victims from accessing help, while others incited violence against the police and the military using speakers in nearby mosques.

The sentences were originally handed down by Judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata, who has become notorious for giving harsh sentences to defendants associated with the banned Muslim brotherhood organization and secular opposition figures. In 2014 and 2015, he sentenced 22 people to death for their alleged storming of Kerdasa police station and the killing of a police officer.

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