Capital punishment in Egypt

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Capital punishment in Egypt can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian civilization, where the death penalty was carried out against those who broke the Ma'at, a law which forbade crimes such as murder, theft, sacrilege, attempts on the life of the Pharaoh, and spying. Methods of execution included beheading, sacrifice, and drowning in the Nile in a closed sack. According to Amnesty International, the death penalty in Egypt is currently reserved for crimes under anti-terrorism legislation, as well as "premeditated murder, rape and drug related offences."[1] There are currently two methods of execution in Egypt. The first and more commonly used is hanging (the gallows), which is used on civilian criminals. The second is the firing squad, which is specifically used for soldiers and military personnel who commit capital crimes.

In addition, capital punishment can also be meted out for high treason.

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, currently Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, is responsible under Egyptian law for reviewing all death sentences in Egypt.[2]

Port Said Stadium disaster

On 26 January 2013, an Egyptian court gave death sentences to 21 people convicted of involvement in a mass attack by fans of the Al-Masry Club against fans of the Al-Ahly Sports Club at Port Said Stadium on 1 February 2012.[3][4] Soon at least 22 people died in violence that erupted in Port Said, Egypt, following the sentencing to death of 21 people for their roles in the Port Said Stadium disaster.[5][6]

Egypt court sentences hundreds to death

On 28 April 2014 amid the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état, An Egyptian judge has sentenced 683 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death, including the group's supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and confirmed the death sentences of 37 of 529 alleged supporters previously condemned. Mohamed Elmessiry, an Amnesty International researcher monitoring the cases, said they "lacked basic fair trial guarantees". The defendants from the first case whose death sentences were not upheld were each sentenced to 25 years in prison.[7] Meanwhile, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters banned the April 6 Movement, a grassroots organization instrumental in the 2011 revolution that Egypt’s military last year seized power ostensibly to protect.[8]

Judge Saeed Youssef first attracted international condemnation and prompted an outcry from human-rights groups after he handed down the initial sentence for the 528 defendants on March 24, following a brief trial marked by irregularities.[9] Later he reversed 492 of those 529 death sentences, commuting most of them to life in prison.

Egyptian law requires that death sentences are confirmed by the presiding judge after a comment has been invited from the Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, the country's leading religious official. The Mufti's opinion to the judge is secret. The guilty verdict and death sentences are still subject to appeal at the Court of Appeal. "The case killed the credibility of the Egyptian judicial system," said Elmessiry of Amnesty International.[10]

The violence of which the defendants are accused took place on August 14, 2013 as news reached Minya governorate that police had launched the deadly clearance of two sit-ins in Cairo, held by supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi, who had been deposed after mass protests against his rule.[11]