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Egypt slams 'unacceptable' foreign criticism of mass jailing

Foreign comment on court verdict infringes judicial independence, says foreign ministry

Ahram Online , Friday 6 Feb 2015
In a different case, political activist Ahmed Douma looks on behind bars in Cairo, December 22, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's foreign ministry has hit back at international condemnations of a recent mass verdict by a Cairo court which saw 230 defendants, including well-known activist Ahmed Douma, sentenced to life imprisonment.
A spokesman for the European Union had said that the trial "violates international human rights obligations", while the US State Department had said Washington was "deeply troubled" by the mass sentencing of the defendants to life in prison for involvement in clashes in 2011. Local and international rights organisations had also criticised the trial.
The Egyptian foreign ministry on Friday said it viewed some international reactions to the case with "deep dismay", criticising the "unacceptable intrusion on the work of the Egyptian judiciary."
"The recent international reactions to the verdict reflect clear double standards and selectivity, particularly in light of the fact that some countries that claim to boast democratic systems detain individuals for years without trial, a chance for legal defence, or even charges, amid chilling international silence," read the statement.
Comments on judicial verdicts by "domestic and foreign entities" infringe on judicial independence and represent "a blatant disregard for the core principles of any true democratic system," the statement asserted.
A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced 230 people to life imprisonment for their involvement in clashes in 2011 at the Cabinet building in Cairo, on charges of illegal assembly, weapons possession, assaulting military and police personnel, and attacking government installations. Thirty-nine juvenile defendants were also convicted and sentenced to ten-year jail terms.
The defendants were also issued a collective fine of LE17 million.
A number of lawyers and activists have accused the presiding judge, Nagy Shehata, of bias against Douma. His defence team had withdrawn from the trial after attempts to have the case referred to a different bench failed.
Shehata defended his verdict in media statements on Thursday and insisted the trial had been fair.
Those convicted have the right to appeal the verdict.
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