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Egypt: ten sentenced to death after 'flagrantly' unfair mass trial

‘Helwan Brigades’ case saw scores held at notorious al-Aqrab and Tora Maximum Security Two Prison in cruel and inhuman conditions

A 16-year-old detainee was tortured with electric shocks and beatings

‘Today’s verdict is an insult to justice’ - Amna Guellali

Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing of ten people to death - and the imposition of long jail sentences of up to life imprisonment against 153 others - by a court in Egypt today after a lengthy pre-trial detention involving numerous allegations of torture and other human rights violations. 

The sentences were handed down by the First Terrorism Circuit in Cairo Criminal Court earlier today. The court acquitted another 43 defendants.

Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:

“Today’s verdict is an insult to justice. 

“The case has been marred by enforced disappearances and torture, including of children. 

“The authorities must investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances and torture, and immediately allow all detainees access to their families, lawyers and adequate medical care. 

“Given the flagrant fair trial breaches in this case, the authorities must quash the verdict and order the release of detainees, most of whom had been held for over two years in pretrial detention in contravention of Egyptian law.”

‘Helwan Brigades’ case

In February 2015, Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution referred more than 200 people to trial over various charges including terrorism, destruction of property and murder. 

The Egyptian authorities denied the defendants access to their lawyers throughout the pretrial and trial proceedings. Some have been banned them from seeing their families since 2016, and most have been detained at the notorious al-Aqrab and Tora Maximum Security Two Prison in cruel and inhuman conditions amounting to torture.

Also known as the "Helwan Brigades” case, the trial revolved around a group that emerged in August 2014 and claimed responsibility for attacks on the police. At least four of the detainees were under 18 at the time of their arrest. One of these, Youssef Samir, was 16 when he was arrested in July 2014 and subjected to enforced disappearance for more than two months. Amnesty learned that during this period National Security Agency officers tortured him with electric shocks and beatings. Five defendants died in prison amid reports they were denied medical care. 

Last year, at least 356 people were sentenced to death by Egyptian courts, the second-highest number of death sentences Amnesty recorded worldwide during 2021.

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