El-Sisi mandates transfer of foreign inmates to home-country prisons

Ahram Online, Wednesday 12 Nov 2014

Egypt's president issues new law authorising the transfer of foreigners on trial in Egyptian courts or in Egyptian prisons to their home countries

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi waits for a meeting with Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. (Photo AP)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a decree on Wednesday giving him the authority to transfer non-Egyptian defendants on trial or already convicted to be sent to their countries to be tried or serve their sentences.

The new law stipulates that the general prosecution has to request the transfer of the prisoners and the cabinet has to approve the request.

'This law was issued to uphold the interest of the state and to maintain the international image of Egypt," Presidency Spokesman Alaa Yousef said in a presser on Wednesday.

Yousef also said the new law is in line with the adequate legal framework Egypt is establishing, adding that, by serving their sentences in their countries, defendants will find it easier to reintegrate back into society after their release.

The law might be utilised in the highly publicised case of AlJazeera journalists as two of the three detained defendants, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, are foreigners.

It is still unclear whether the new law will apply to detained Egyptians with dual nationalities.

The three were sentenced in June to jail terms ranging from seven to ten years for spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood.

When responding to international pressure to release the journalists last month, El-Sisi said that the best way to deal with violations committed by foreign journalists is deportation outside the country. However, he made it clear that he could not interfere with the judicial process, stressing that the country's judiciary is "completely independent."

Another publicised case where the new verdict can be applied is the case of Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for over 285 days and is being tried in the case known as the "Rabaa control room".

Soltan, 26, along with 50 others, is accused of setting up an operations room during the Brotherhood-led Rabaa Al-Adaweya protest camp in July – August 2013, as part of plans to defy the state and spread chaos, as well as plot attacks on police stations, private property and churches.    

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