Leading Islamists escape death sentence as court downgrades verdict

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Thursday 25 Sep 2014

Life imprisonment for the Salafist Call's Abdallah Barakat and the Muslim Brotherhood's Hossam Marghany

Leading brotherhood members
Archive photo of leading Brotherhood members at the court session on the Cut-off Qalyoubia road case (Photo:Al-Ahram)

The death sentences for two leading Islamist figures were downgraded to life imprisonment following a retrial by Cairo's criminal court on Thursday.

In July, Abdallah Barakat, dean of the Islamic Call's faculty at Al-Azhar University, along with top Muslim Brotherhood member Hossam Marghany and eight other defendants were given the death penalthy on charges of inciting violence and cutting off the highway between Qalioubiya and Cairo in July 2013 after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The court gave the harshest penalty at the time - a death sentence - as the defendants were tried in absentia.

However, the two Islamist figures have since been detained by police, prompting a retrial.

The July court verdict included a life sentence for 37 others who attended the sessions and were thus not part of Thursday's retrial.

The incident along the Qalioubiya-Cairo highway last year resulted in the death of two and the injury of 35 others due to clashes between police forces and the defendants.

Other Egyptian courts have recently handed the death sentence to hundreds of Morsi supporters also in abbreviated trials prompting a local and international outcry.

Many of those death sentences were overturned upon retrials due to the objections of the Grand Mufti who must be consulted on every death verdict.

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