Egypt court sentences US-Egyptian citizen to life in prison

Egypt court sentences US-Egyptian citizen to life in prison

The White House condemned the life sentence and called for his “immediate release”.

By (AFP)

Published: Sun 12 Apr 2015, 9:26 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 9:55 PM

Cairo — A Cairo court on Saturday confirmed death sentences for Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 13 others over protest violence, while the jailing of a US-Egyptian citizen for life was slammed by the White House.

Two of the 14 defendants sentenced to death have fled the country and will immediately face a retrial if apprehended.

Judge Mohammad Nagy Shehata also handed life terms to 23 detained defendants.

The group were accused of plotting unrest from their headquarters in a sprawling Cairo protest camp in the months after the military overthrew Mohammad Mursi in July 2013.

Among those sentenced to life in prison was Mohammad Soltan, a US-Egyptian citizen who is on hunger strike. His father Salah Soltan was among those sentenced to death.

The White House condemned the life sentence and called for his “immediate release”.

“We remain deeply concerned about Mr Soltan’s health, which has suffered during his 20 month-long incarceration,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

“The president is deeply committed to the welfare of all US citizens abroad and we will ensure that Mr Soltan continues to receive consular support until he can return safely to the United States, per his wishes.”

The rulings can be appealed before the Court of Cassation, which has overturned dozens of other death sentences, including against Badie.

Known as the “Rabaa Operations Room” case, the prosecution accused the defendants of organising months of unrest and protests against the ouster of Mursi, a senior Brotherhood figure himself now on trial.

The Rabaa Al Adawiya protest camp in Cairo was dispersed by police on August 14, 2013 in a 12-hour operation that left hundreds of protesters and about 10 policemen dead.

Mohammad Soltan was shot in the arm and arrested days later as police hunted down activists who had fled the protest camp.

Police moved in to disperse the camp after weeks of failed European and US-brokered negotiations with the Brotherhood, which publicly insisted on Mursi’s return.

The party was the country’s first freely elected president, but he ruled for only a year before the army toppled him, spurred by massive protests demanding his resignation.

President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Mursi and then won an election, has pledged to eradicate the Brotherhood.

The government has blacklisted the movement as a terrorist organisation amid a spike in militant attacks which have killed dozens of policemen and soldiers.

The Brotherhood insists it is committed to non-violence, but decapitated and driven underground, the movement is believed to have radicalised, with members opting to use militant tactics against policemen. 

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