An Egyptian court upheld a death sentence against 12 accused leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt classifies as a terrorist group. It also reduced the death sentence to 31 others, bringing the death sentence to life in the case known in the media as “the dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in.”
Among the defendants, whose death sentence was upheld, are Abdel Rahman Al-Bar, the Grand Mufti of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed El-Beltagy, and Safwat Hegazy.
This ruling is final and cannot be appealed.
In 2018, the Cairo Criminal Court had sentenced 75 people to death and to life imprisonment (25 years) to 47 others. While it sentenced other defendants to different prison terms, including 10 years in prison for Osama, the son of former President Mohamed Morsi.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, condemned the court’s decision at the time, saying it was “the product of an unfair trial”.
The Egyptian Public Prosecution charged the defendants with charges, including “arranging a gathering of more than 5 people in the vicinity of Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square that would put public peace and security at risk, premeditated murder, and blocking roads.”
Those sentenced to death were convicted on charges including “arming criminal gangs that attacked citizens and resisting policemen, and possessing weapons, ammunition and materials used in making bombs.”
According to the court, the charges also included “killing policemen, resisting the authorities, and occupying and destroying public property.”
The Egyptian authorities banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 and oversaw a massive persecution of members of the group, which resulted in the arrest of thousands of its supporters.
More than 600 defendants were charged in the main case known as the Rabaa sit-in dispersal case.
The Egyptian police and army killed hundreds in one day when they forcibly dispersed the Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda sit-ins on August 14, 2013, weeks after the army, backed by popular protests, removed former President Mohamed Morsi from power.
Human rights groups described the day of the dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda sit-ins as the deadliest incident in contemporary Egyptian history. However, the Egyptian authorities said at the time that members of the Muslim Brotherhood were armed and that the forceful dispersal of the sit-in was a necessary measure to combat terrorism.
The ousted Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, died on June 17, 2019 while attending the court session, when he fell unconscious and died afterwards. Egyptian authorities said Morsi had suffered a heart attack.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an “independent investigation” into the circumstances of Mohamed Morsi’s death while in detention.
While human rights organizations have called for an international investigation into the circumstances of the arrest and death of the former Egyptian president, who was ousted by the army in 2013, one year after taking power.
Amnesty International called on the Egyptian government to launch an “impartial, thorough and transparent investigation” into the causes of his death and the conditions of his detention.
Human Rights Watch echoed the same call, saying that Morsi had suffered for years from “restriction of his access to medical care.”
For its part, the Egyptian General Information Service criticized what was published by “Human Rights Watch” in this regard, and said in a statement that what the organization was publishing contained “false allegations” confirming the organization’s continued “circulation of lies.”