Egypt: Halt imminent execution of nine prisoners on death row
Egyptian authorities must immediately halt the execution of nine prisoners whom Amnesty International has learned could be put to death as soon as tomorrow morning. The men were convicted after an unfair trial over the 2015 killing of Egypt’s former public prosecutor, and have been moved from their prison cells to the appeals prison in preparation for their executions. During the trial some of the defendants said they were forcibly disappeared and tortured to confessing to the crime.
Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:
“Time is running out to save the lives of these nine men. The Egyptian authorities have an opportunity to do the right thing by immediately halting any plans to carry out these executions.
“There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice.
“The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and irreversible punishment and its use in Egypt is even more appalling given the authorities’ track record of handing out death sentences after grossly unfair trials. At least six men have already been executed earlier this month after unfair trials. Instead of stepping up executions the Egyptian authorities should take steps to abolish the death penalty once and for all.”
The nine men were among 28 men sentenced to death for the killing of the former public prosecutor in an attack in Cairo that took place in June 2015. Several of the men said they were forcibly disappeared and tortured in order to confess to the killing.
On 25 February 2018, the Court of Cassation upheld the decision against the nine men and commuted the sentence of six others to life imprisonment. Thirteen other men were convicted in absentia, and one of them was forcibly returned to Egypt from Turkey in January. Under Egyptian law, those sentenced in absentia are entitled to a retrial once in custody.
So far, at least six people have been executed in Egypt in 2019 after trials marred by claims of torture.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life.