News / Middle East

Egypt Adjourns Second Mass Trial of Brotherhood Members

In Egypt, Another Day, Another Triali
X
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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid