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Egypt: Defense Lawyers Try to Appeal Death Sentences for Muslim Brotherhood Defendants

(Apr. 2, 2014) On March 24, 2014, the defense lawyers for 528 members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood who were convicted of various offenses and given the death penalty announced, in a press conference, that due process for the defendants had been violated. The offenses included murdering a police officer, storming and damaging public property, stealing weaponry from a police station, and practicing the act of terrorism. The lawyers claimed that the judges of a criminal court did not hear their defense and banned them from reviewing the evidence and cross-examining prosecution witnesses. The defense lawyers also stated that the court did not allow some of the lawyers to enter the courtroom during the session. Finally, the defense lawyers accused the judges of being prejudiced against their clients, as evidenced by rendering the sentences in the second hearing without hearing defense lawyers. (After Imposing the Death Sentence on 528 Individuals Affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Defense Lawyers Announce They Will Appeal the Court’s Decision [in Arabic], AL YOUM 7 (Mar. 24, 2014).)

In an attempt to appeal the death sentence against their clients, the lawyers submitted petitions to the Court of Cassation to scrutinize the decision of the criminal court. (Id.) The Court of Cassation is the highest judicial body in the Egyptian court system. If the Court of Cassation finds that there was a breach of law during the trial process or in the interpretation of the Penal Code by the judges, it will repeal the death penalty sentences. The Court of Cassation will also return the case to the criminal court to be adjudicated by different judges. (Code of Criminal Procedure, 1937, as amended by Law No. 95, 2003 [in Arabic], art. 446, available at MOHAMOON.COM.)