Court overturns 149 death sentences in Kerdasa case

The Court of Cassation accepted an appeal on death sentences issued for 149 people charged with the premeditated murder of 11 officers and two civilians in Kerdasa in 2013, local media reported. The court ordered a retrial for the defendants on Wednesday.

The defendants have been accused of carrying out an armed attack on the Kerdasa Police Station in August 2013, on the same day as the bloody dispersal of pro-Brotherhood Rabea and Nahda square sit-ins, and killing 11 officers and two civilians. The charges also include illegal assembly and unlawful arms possession.

The initial 188 preliminary death sentences were issued in December 2014 by controversial judge Nagy Shehata to international uproar. Human Rights Watch condemned the verdicts, warning that “mass death sentences are fast losing Egypt’s judiciary whatever reputation for independence it once had,” and the European Union issued a statement demanding a fair trial for the defendants. Of the 188 original sentences, 183 were ratified in a verdict issued by a Giza court in February, with 34 defendants sentenced in absentia.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Military Criminal Court in Alexandria referred preliminary death sentences issued against seven defendants to the grand mufti, the country’s chief religious cleric, for ratification. The defendants include prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the Nile Delta governorate of Kafr al-Sheikh, and are accused of bombing Kafr al-Sheikh Stadium in April of last year. Civilians convicted by military courts have no legal recourse through the Court of Cassation, and appeal is only possible through the Military Court of Appeals.

The Court of Cassation overturned another seven death sentences issued in a case related to the assassination of assistant head of Giza Security, Nabil Farrag, in Kerdasa on Monday. The court ordered a retrial, citing procedural errors. Farrag was killed in an exchange of fire between armed men and police forces in September 2013.

In December, the same court also accepted the appeal of Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and 37 others, who had been issued death sentences in a trial popularly known as the Rabea operations room case.

Of the multiple mass death sentences that were issued in 2014, the only case in which the verdicts have been implemented is a military trial widely referred to as the Arab Sharkas case, in which six people were executed in May 2015 on charges of carrying out terrorist attacks, despite outcries by lawyers and human rights groups that trial procedures were flawed.


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