Cairo – Egyptian Criminal Court sentenced on Sunday 20 men to death for charges of killing 11 policemen in the violence incidents in Kerdasa city, Giza province west of Cairo, that followed the military’s ousting of former president Mohamed Mursi in 2013.
The court also changed the sentence for many others to long prison terms.
The death sentences were issued after the cases were sent in April to Egypt’s Mufti for approval. Mufti’s opinion is legally required but not binding.
Before reading out the verdict, Judge Sherine Fahmy reported Iftaa describing the defendants as fighting against God and his Prophet.
He said the crimes the defendants are accused of were committed by a group charged with carrying them out as: “Some committed murder themselves, others stole, or burned, some guarded the road so the assailants could commit their crimes, and some blocked the roads to prevent help from coming, some incited citizens against the military and police using mosque speakers and microphones on the streets. If it were not for all of that, these crimes would not have been committed.”
The court also sentenced 80 people to life in prison and 34 to 15 years in jail. One minor was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 21 people were acquitted.
The incident, usually referred to as “Kerdasa incident”, involved gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at a police station on August 14, 2013, and slit a policeman’s throat before burning the building down.
The incident occurred hours after security forces forcibly dispersed two pro-Morsi protest camps, in Cairo and Giza, killing hundreds of protesters and security forces.
A different court had initially sentenced 183 people to death, including 28 in absentia, and a minor to jail for 10 years in 2015 for the murder of 11 policemen. Those sentenced in absentia are automatically retried if they hand themselves in.
The defendants appealed and the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest criminal and civil court, ordered a retrial of the 156 who are in custody. Egypt’s legal system allows the defendants a second and final appeal following Sunday’s verdict.
About 20 Egyptians await their execution in violent cases linked one way or another to politics.