The Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms launched a campaign demanding the Egyptian authorities immediately revoke seven death sentences by the Supreme Military Court against defendants in the “Arab Sharkas cell”.
The appeal against the death sentences was rejected by the army-controlled court last week. The group speculates the executions might take place in the coming days.
The campaign, dubbed “The Execution of a Homeland”, entails gathering petitions to be sent to the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations (UNHCR).
“In the recent period more than 500 citizens were handled death sentences in unfair trails,” the campaign said.
London-based group Human Rights Monitor expressed its concern over the death sentences given to the accused. The convicted were charged with “belonging to the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, plotting terrorist operations, and receiving military trainings, and attacking army facilities”.
“The court ignored all evidence that might enable the defendants to be acquitted,” the group said, adding that the sentenced did not have enough time to address the court and were subjected to torture.
The group also claimed that the court was selective when it came to choosing witnesses, as the only witness was a Homeland Security officer. It added that they were beaten to confess to the charges.
“The Human Rights Monitor fears that the possibility of executing those citizens amid full negligence from the Egyptian authorities to all calls to stop the execution of Mahmoud Ramdan,” the group said.
The Ministry of Interior announced on 7 March that Ramadan, who was sentenced to death for throwing a minor off a rooftop in Alexandria in 2013, had been executed. Amnesty International said in a statement on 9 March that it “deplores” the Egyptian authorities’ hanging of Ramadan. The group also stated that his death sentence had been upheld “following an unfair trial”, and that this “move might pave the way to further executions in light of the hundreds of death sentences”.
“We demand that the Egyptian authorities revoke the verdict and retry the defendants in fair conditions,” the group added.
In October 2014, the Supreme Military Court sentenced seven defendants to death, and another two to life. The sessions were held in the military area in the Hikestep military camp in the Ismailia-Cairo.
The name “Arab Sharkas” goes back to where security forces carried out a raid in March 2014 against an alleged “terrorist cell” in a village in the governorate of Qaliubiya, north of Cairo.
During the attack, six members of the cell were killed in clashes with the police special forces that surrounded the village.
Days after the attack, theAnsar Beit Al-Maqdis group released a statement mourning six of its dead members.