Egyp­tian court sen­tences 20 to death for killing po­lice­men

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

CAIRO: An Egyp­tian court yes­ter­day up­held the death penalty for 20 men charged with killing po­lice­men in the vi­o­lence that fol­lowed the mil­i­tary’s oust­ing of an Is­lamist pres­i­dent in 2013, while chang­ing the sen­tence for many oth­ers to hefty prison terms.

The ver­dicts can again be ap­pealed against.

The case in­volves 156 peo­ple on trial and is known as the “Ker­dasa in­ci­dent” in ref­er­ence to the pro-Mus­lim Brother­hood neigh­bour­hood where the vi­o­lence took place in Giza prov­ince (near Cairo).

Is­lamist gun­men fired rocket-pro­pelled grenades at a po­lice sta­tion in Ker­dasa on Au­gust 14, 2013, and slit a po­lice­man’s throat be­fore burn­ing down the build­ing, hours af­ter se­cu­rity forces vi­o­lently dis­persed two protest camps, killing hun­dreds.

“The crimes the de­fen­dants are ac­cused of were com­mit­ted by a group charged with car­ry­ing them out,” said Judge Sher­ine Fahmy be­fore read­ing out the ver­dict. “Some com­mit­ted mur­der them­selves, oth­ers stole or burnt, some guarded the road so the as­sailants could com­mit their crimes, and some blocked roads to pre­vent help com­ing, some in­cited ci­ti­zens against the mil­i­tary and po­lice us­ing mosque speak­ers and mi­cro­phones on the streets.

“If it were not for all of that, these crimes would not have been com­mit­ted.”

The court also sen­tenced 80 peo­ple to life in prison and 34 to 15 years in jail. One mi­nor was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison and 21 peo­ple were ac­quit­ted.

A dif­fer­ent court had ini­tially sen­tenced 183 peo­ple to death, in­clud­ing 28 in ab­sen­tia, and a mi­nor to jail for 10 years in 2015 for the mur­der of 11 po­lice­men. Those sen­tenced in ab­sen­tia are au­to­mat­i­cally re­tried if they hand them­selves in.

The de­fen­dants ap­pealed and Egypt’s high­est crim­i­nal and civil court or­dered a re­trial of the 156 who are in cus­tody.

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