Court postpones ratification of death sentence over "Kerdasa events" citing security reasons

Tuesday 09-12-2014 10:54 AM
Court postpones ratification of death sentence over

A view shows a damaged police station burnt in a blaze by supporters of former president Mohamed Mursi in Kerdasa, a town 14 km (9 miles) from Cairo in this September 19, 2013 file photograph. An Egyptian judge sentenced 185 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death on December 2, 2014 over an attack on a police station near Cairo last year in which 12 policemen were killed. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany


CAIRO, Dec 9 (Aswat Masriya) – The Giza Criminal Court postponed on Tuesday a session to consider ratifying of the death sentences of 185 defendants accused of killing policemen to February 22, citing "security reasons."

The 185 defendants were referred to Egypt’s Grand Mufti last week to consider their death sentences over events dubbed by the media as the "Kerdasa massacre". The court’s final decision was scheduled for January 24 before its postponement on Tuesday.

January 25 will mark as the fourth anniversary of the January 2011 uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. The uprising’s previous three anniversaries have been marred by nationwide demonstrations, which turned into deadly clashes with security forces in 2013 and 2014.

The prosecution had referred 188 defendants to court, accusing them of breaking into the main police station in Kerdasa, a town 14 km from Cairo, killing at least 11 policemen, mutilating their bodies, and the attempted murder of 10 others.

A judicial source told Aswat Masirya that two of the defendants passed away and a third was a minor who was not included in the verdict.

Another judicial source added that only 151 of the defendants were sentenced in session.

Referral of files to the Mufti is a procedural step taken to decide whether or not a defendant may be sentenced to death. Though the Mufti’s decisions are not legally binding, it is customary for the court to adopt them.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised last Wednesday the mass death sentence issued against the 185 defendants.

The international watchdog emphasised that "serious crimes were committed during the Kerdasa attack", but stressed the right of those reponsible to a fair trial. It added that it was "unfair" for everyone to be tried in mass proceedings.

The "Kerdasa events" came shortly after police forces forcibly dispersed two sit-ins in support of Former President Mohamed Mursi on August 14, 2013, causing the death of hundreds of protesters in what was described by Human Rights Watch as "the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history."

Authorities have led a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters since the military ouster of Mursi in July 2013. Mursi himself is in jail, facing a string of charges in more than one court case.

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