A death sentence given to 149 pro-Islamists has today, the 3rd of February, been overturned by an Egyptian appeals court.
The court ordered a retrial for the defendants whose crime was the killing of 13 policemen, near Cairo on August 14, 2013, the same day the police shot down hundreds of Islamist demonstrators in the capital. The defendants are supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and ever since the army overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, Egypt has been on the offensive with Islamists.
Hundreds of his supporters have been sentenced to death in various mass trials, an action which has generated widespread criticism from human rights groups around the world and the United Nations. Morsi who belonged to the brotherhood became Egypt’s first democratically elected President. This after, the people of Egypt had banded together to oust former President Hosni Mubarak’s who had at the time ruled for 30 years. Unlike his predecessor, Morsi’s rule barely made it past the first anniversary of his rise to power.
Many Egyptians perceived that he was more interested in solidifying his political hold than the more serious economic and social problems that existed then, so on the first anniversary of his taking office, his opponents organized demonstrations that saw millions take to the streets demanding his resignation. He was overthrown three days later by then military chief and now president; Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and a crackdown on his supporters (mostly Islamists ) that saw over 1400 people lose their lives and thousands detained, began.
The former President is now facing a death sentence after being charged and convicted with a number of crimes which include; detention and torture of protesters, prison breaks that caused a number of deaths, espionage and so forth. At his very first trial, the former President shouted out that he was the victim of a military coup, after which he was made to seat in sound-proof glass cages for all other trials and proceedings. The continued insistence of Morsi’s fellow Islamists and other supporters that the crackdown on the Brotherhood, which saw a number of them receive the death sentence is all part of a coup, has indeed kept the issue at the forefront of some human right activist agendas.
All this may have played a part in this recent overturning of the death sentences of the 149 pro-Islamists and its left to see where a retrial will leave the group.