The judge who handed life sentences to activist Ahmed Douma and 229 others has insisted the verdict was “fair,” despite the US state department saying it was “troubled” by the verdict.
“Praise goes to God who helped us to issue the verdict, we have issued a fair one as we have been reviewing the case for a long time. I and the rest of the judges know well that we did not commit injustice to anyone as we will all be held accountable in front of God,” Mohamed Nagy Shehata, the judge overseeing the trial and head of Cairo criminal court, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
On Wednesday, Cairo criminal court sentenced Douma and another 229 defendants to life in prison and fined them LE17 million (US$2.2 million) for involvement in the December 2011 cabinet clashes.
Shehata also said that the defence team had used all possible ways to elongate the trial and show that the convicted had no links to the charges.
He also stressed that video footage and other evidence showed that the convicted set fire to the Scientific Institute in downtown Cairo and attacked army and police forces and that these charges are enough for sentence them to life in prison.
A life sentence means 25 years in jail, according to the penal code. Some 39 minors were sentenced to ten years in prison in the same case.
Meanwhile, state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Wednesday that the US is “deeply troubled” by the mass life sentences.
“Mass trials and sentences run counter to the most basic democratic principles and due process under the law. It simply seems impossible that a fair review of evidence and testimony could be achieved under these circumstances,” Psaki said during her Wednesday briefing.
Psaki also called on the Egyptian government to “ensure due process for the accused on the merit of individual cases.”
The EU also has condemned the verdict as “a violation to Egypt’s international human rights obligations,” in a statement issued late Wednesday.
“The EU calls on the Egyptian authorities to abide by their international obligations, to uphold the right to a fair trial and safeguard due legal process,” said the statement, adding that the EU would continue to support Egypt in its political transition.
All defendants can appeal against the verdicts
Douma, along with 269 defendants, were accused of possessing bladed weapons and Molotov cocktails, assaulting personnel from the armed forces and the police, torching the Scientific Institute in downtown Cairo and damaging other governmental buildings, including that of the cabinet and the parliament.