Egyptian court sentences 20 to death for killing policemen
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.