Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fear of Execution after an Unfair Trial

Brothers Ezzat and Hamdi Ali Hanafi have been sentenced to death after an unfair
trial, and could be executed at any time. The sentence has been sent to the
supreme religious authority (Mufti) for approval. President Hosni Mubarak still
has the power to commute the sentence.

Ezzat and Hamdi Ali Hanafi were sentenced to death on 25 September 2005 by the
(Emergency) Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), whose procedures fall far short
of international fair trial standards. They had been arrested in March 2004 and
convicted of using an area of land belonging to the state to grow unspecified
"drugs"; when the security forces raided the property, they allegedly offered
armed resistance, and took hostages to use as human shields.

The brothers are the first defendants sentenced to death by the SSSC since 1998,
according to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. Under the Emergency
Law, which has been in force in Egypt since 1981, they had no right to appeal
against this verdict and could only lodge a petition to quash or reduce the
sentence. On 2 May the Deputy Military Governor of Egypt rejected this petition.
Under the state of emergency, the Deputy Military Governor is equivalent to
President Mubarak's deputy.

Had they been tried before an ordinary criminal court, both defendants would
have had the chance to appeal to the Court of Cassation on grounds of procedural
irregularity. On a number of occasions the Court of Cassation has ordered
retrials for people sentenced to death by courts of first instance.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- expressing concern that brothers Ezzat and Hamdi Ali Hanafi are under sentence
of death and could be executed at any time;
- explaining that you are opposed to the death penalty in all cases, as a
violation of the right to life (as set out in Article 3 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights: (Everyone has the right to life, liberty and
security of person(), which has never been shown to deter crime more effectively
than other punishments, and is brutalizing to all involved in its application;
- urging the Mufti not to approve the death sentences;
- urging the President to use his constitutional powers to grant clemency and
commute this and all other outstanding death sentences;
- drawing attention to the world trend towards abolishing or reducing the use of
the death penalty, in accordance with Article 6 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a state party.

H.E. Muhammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: 011 20 2 390 1998
E-mail: webmaster@presidency.gov.eg


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