Egypt's justice minister defends mass death sentences

Ahram Online , Wednesday 30 Apr 2014

Justice Minister Neir Osman says that Egypt's judges are independent and will not accept any outside influence

Egypt's Justice Minister Neir Osman held a press conference on Wednesday to defend the death sentences issued by a Minya court on Monday, which he said would not be influenced by local and international criticism.

 "We do not accept any comment or remark to be issued regarding our courts' rulings," said Osman, adding that no one has the right to comment on court rulings or attack the judge that issued them until after the court's reasoning is published.

"The judges of Egypt are completely independent; they do not take orders from anyone, even from the justice minister," said Osman, insisting that he would not let the Egyptian judiciary be insulted or attacked.

On Monday, Minya's Criminal Court sentenced 683 defendants to death in connection to an attack on a police station in the nearby city of Adawa. The same court also confirmed the death sentences it handed to 37 people a month earlier for a similar style of attack on a police station in Matay. Both attacks occurred in the spate of violence following the bloody dispersal of two pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo last August.

Regarding an appeal from prosecutors against the death sentences for the 37 defendants, Osman said it was an obligatory appeal according to law.

He insisted that Egypt was a country with a solid track record of human rights and that all defendants enjoy full rights.

Many international and Egyptian human rights organisations criticised the Minya court's verdicts on Monday, arguing that the trials were not fair and just, as the defence was not allowed to present its case.

"The Egyptian state is being attacked by people from inside and outside. Those people do not want to it to move forward," said Osman.


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