The Egyptian cabinet approved on Sunday an amendment to the criminal procedure law meaning that defendants tried in absentia would be considered as present if a lawyer represents them.
Prior to the amendment, defendants tried in absentia were granted retrials after either being arrested or turning themselves in.
The amendment to Article 50 of the criminal procedure law – originally issued in 1950 -- stipulates that defendants can avoid being tried in absentia even if they are at large, providing that they have a lawyer, Minister of Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ibrahim El-Heneidy told Al Ahram Arabic news website.
El-Heneidy said the cabinet approved the amendment because there are a large number of fugitives who have been sentenced in absentia. They are to retain the right of appeal to any verdict when they are present before a court of law.
“The amendment aims to speed up the procedures to put many fugitives on trial. This way, the sentence won’t be dropped quickly”, El-Heneidy explained.
Since the ouster Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, hundreds of his supporters have been sentenced in absentia. In June 2015, 93 people were sentenced to death in absentia over the infamous 2011 prison break during the January uprising.