An Egyptian woman holding the portrait of a relative reacts outisde the court that sentenced 682 alleged Islamists and a Muslim Brotherhood leader to death on Monday in the southern city of Minya. PHOTO/AFP
MINYA – Doctor Badawi was killed on August 14, but he was among 37 people whose death sentences were confirmed on Monday by an Egyptian court which sentenced another 683 to the gallows.
His case is not unique — lawyers said two other defendants sentenced to death by the court in the central city of Minya for demonstrating in support of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi were already dead on the day of the protest last year.
It is an extreme example of what the international community has described as the judicial farce of mass trials lasting just two brief sessions and resulting in death sentences for hundreds of defendants, most of them not even in custody.
Monday’s hearing lasted just 10 minutes, said defence lawyer Khaled Elkomy. None of the defendants were brought to court for the session.
Several female relatives of the accused fainted outside the court on hearing of the death sentences handed down by judge Said Youssef Sabry.
Sabry sentenced 683 alleged Islamists, including the leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, to death after convicting them of the murder and attempted murder of several policemen on August 14.
He commuted to life imprisonment 492 death sentences he handed down after a similar rushed mass trial last month but upheld 37 others.
“Among them is Doctor Badawi, who was shot and killed on the day of the incidents which the defendants are accused of,” said Samia Abu Amr, as she held a crumpled sheet of paper listing the names of the 37.
To her relief, her brother’s name was not among them.
Badawi’s family received a court summons on August 23, nine days after his death, said defence lawyer Mohamed Abdel Wahab.
He did not give the doctor’s first name.
Only 73 of the 683 defendants sentenced to death on Monday are in custody, prosecutor Abdel Rahim Abdel Malek said. The others have a right to a retrial if they turn themselves in.
At least three of those convicted were out of the country on the day of the alleged offences and have Saudi visas to prove it, said defence layer Arabi Mabrouk.
“The court has not done even basic checks on the defendants,” his colleague Mohamed Salama said.
Samia said her brother “had never participated in any protests”. She said his name had been added to the list of defendants solely because “he had refused to give money to a police officer”.
Asmaa Abdel Wahab said her husband, a farm labourer, had been convicted even though he had taken his father to hospital on the day of the protest.
He was among those whose death sentences were commuted to life in prison.
“But for me and my children that changes nothing as without his income we are condemned to death,” she said.