Libya returnees case lacks minimum standards of fair trial - Rights group

Sunday 06-11-2016 04:43 PM

Egyptians returning from Libya through Tunisian borders Feb. 20,2015. REUTERS

CAIRO, Nov 6 (Aswat Masriya) - The court verdict of the returnees from Libya case lacked the minimum standards of fair trial, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said in a statement on Sunday.

The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced on Saturday two people to death and four to life in prison after they were convicted of “participating in violent acts outside of the Egyptian borders, targeting institutions inside Egypt and belonging to an outlawed group.”  

One of the 16 defendants was sentenced to 15 years in prison, and seven were sentenced to three years. Two others were acquitted.

The EIPR expressed its deep concern over the court ruling, saying all the defendants were victims of enforced disappearances and most of them were tortured.

Mother of Omar Hamam, one of the two defendants who were acquitted, said the whereabouts of her son, an Egyptian-American citizen, was unknown for 51 days.

Most of the defendants were arrested in Jan. 2014, meaning they spent 34 months in jail which exceeds the legal maximum period in pre-trial detention set by law at two years.

According to the EIPR, the Supreme State Security Prosecution relied solely on investigations by the Homeland Security who cited secret sources, "which is just a presumption and doesn't serve as a condemning evidence on its own."

"The case lacks any evidence that proves the entry or exit of any of the defendants to or from Libya and the confessions were extracted from the defendants under torture," the EIPR statement added.

Sherif Mohieldin, a researcher at the EIPR, admitted that Egypt faces a real threat represented in armed groups targeting security forces, yet he rejected the state's method in facing these groups.

"Fabrication of charges, unlawful detention, and referring cases to courts without any consideration for the standards of fair trial isn't the real confrontation with groups who embrace armed violence and would lead to nothing but violations against more citizens," Mohieldin said.

The EIPR stressed that the real guarantee of protecting the security and safety of citizens is through the state's adherence to fair trial standards, as well as the human rights standards prescribed by the Egyptian constitution and international conventions.

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