News / Middle East

Egypt Adjourns Second Mass Trial of Brotherhood Members

In Egypt, Another Day, Another Triali
Elizabeth Arrott
March 25, 2014 4:57 PM
A leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood went on trial Tuesday, a day after the mass death sentences for more than 500 Brotherhood supporters shocked legal and rights groups around the world. VOA’s Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.
Related video report by VOA's Elizabeth Arrott
VOA News
The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and nearly 700 members of the group went on trial Tuesday on charges including murder and inciting violence.

The trial of Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide during his arrest last year, and the others comes a day after the same court in Minya sentenced 529 Brotherhood members to death.  They had been charged with murdering a police officer, attacking a police station and other acts of violence.

The trial of Badie and the others was adjourned until April 28, when judgment and sentencing is expected, a lawyer said.

Defense lawyers boycotted Tuesday's session of the trial to protest the mass death sentences issued Monday by the same court in the city of Minya.

“We believe the trial's fairness, which is a right enshrined in the criminal code, was absent in this case, and therefore we take this stand, not in favor of any party. We are all aware and in agreement about the crimes committed by the Muslim Brotherhood," lawyer Tarek Fouda, head of Minya's Lawyer's Syndicate said. "However, we must defend the rule of law in Egypt and ensure justice for all.”

That first trial took just two days, drawing international criticism over whether the proceedings were fair. It also unleashed condemnation locally, even from anti-Brotherhood members of Egypt’s judiciary.

Local reaction

In Cairo, where support remains strong for the crackdown against supporters of ousted president and Brotherhood figure Mohamed Morsi, many were pleased with the decision.

“This is good because it is the first time we see our judges act so quickly, because this was the second session," said Amir, a Cairo resident.

But such swift action against Morsi supporters - compared to the dragged out cases of pre-revolutionary officials - left others angry.

“So why hasn’t [former president Hosni] Mubarak been given the death penalty? Cairo resident Hassan Eissa asked.  "Why hasn’t [former interior minister] el-Adly been given the death penalty?"

With the mass trials and harsh sentences handed down to Morsi supporters being called the “revenge” of Egypt’s military-backed leaders, worries of a greater backlash grow.

International criticism

In Geneva Tuesday, a U.N. official said the mass trial could not have met the most basic requirements for a fair proceeding.  Rupert Coville, a spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, criticized the proceeding as "rife with procedural irregularities" and "in breach of international human rights law."   

Saba Mahmoud, associate professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, told VOA on Tuesday that there is no due process in Egypt, and called the sentencing "ridiculous."

"You can take even perhaps elements from that crowd who may have broken the law and so on, but to actually sentence close to 530 people, 529 to be precise, nowhere can be defended legally," she said. "Most of the people who have been arrested are being tried in military courts and security courts under the emergency law in the country. They’re not being given a fair trial."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States was "deeply concerned" and "pretty shocked" after Monday's decision.

"Obviously the defendants can appeal, but it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony, consistent with international standards, could be accomplished with over 529 defendants in a two-day trial.  It sort of defies logic."

She said the U.S. has continued to urge Egypt to make sure detainees are given fair proceedings, and that politically motivated judicial actions only serve to reverse Egypt's democratic transition.

Mahmoud told VOA the Egyptian military's violations of civil liberties have not pushed the U.S. government to say such behavior must stop or else it will withdraw aid.

“I think the State Department reaction throughout this process has been completely muted. We must remember that Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military and socioeconomic aid after Israel in the region," she said. "And the United States has an enormous influence in how Egyptian politics is conducted. Ever since the overthrow of the Morsi government, the writing has been on the wall."

Back story

The charges in the two trials are related to clashes in Minya last August.  That violence erupted after security forces in Cairo broke up two Brotherhood protest camps, leaving hundreds of people dead.

They were protesting the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member who has been in custody since he was removed from office in July and is facing several trials himself.

Egypt's interim authorities have cracked down on the Brotherhood, labeling it a terrorist group and arresting many of its leaders.

Elizabeth Arrott contributed to this report from Cairo

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs