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As Injustice Becomes Routine In al-Sisi's Egypt, 183 Political Opponents Sentenced to Death

Despite killings and massacres, regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi enjoys impunity, including from close U.S. ally

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with then-Egyptian Minister of Defense General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi in Cairo November 3, 2013. (Photo: State Department/flickr/public domain)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with then-Egyptian Minister of Defense General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi in Cairo November 3, 2013. (Photo: State Department/flickr/public domain)

An Egyptian court on Monday ratified the order to execute 183 alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood—confirming the third mass death sentence issued under the rule of U.S.-backed President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Monday's ruling rubber-stamps an earlier decision, made in December by a judge in Giza, to issue death sentences to 188 people, allegedly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, on unsubstantiated charges relating to an attack on a police station in the Giza town of Kerdasa in August 2013 that led to the killing of 11 officers.

The incident occurred the same day as the Rabaa massacre, in which an attack by Egyptian security forces on a camp protesting the ouster of former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi led to the killing of at least 817 people, and likely more than 1,000, according to the estimates of Human Rights Watch. Not a single security officer or high-ranking Egyptian official has been held accountable for those killings.

The trial of alleged participants in the Kerdasa violence was broadly criticized by human rights organizations, foreign governments, and Egyptian residents as unjust and brutal.

The December sentence was provisional, meaning that it required the non-binding evaluation of the Grand Mufti, Egypt's top religious authority.

According to independent Egyptian publication Mada Masr, the Mufti gave the green-light for the executions, prompting the Giza court on Monday to issue the final death sentence.

The number of people facing execution, however, is now 183, as a minor was sentenced to ten years in jail, two defendants were acquitted, and two others passed away, Egyptian publication Al Ahram reports.

The trial took place in the Tora Police Institute, rather than an official courtroom, and family members of defendants were not allowed to attend, according to Amnesty International.

Egyptian prosecutor general Hesham Barakat vowed late Monday to appeal the ruling. However, according to Al Jazeera, "this has not comforted family members of the accused."

"Issuing mass death sentences whenever the case involves the killing of police officers now appears to be near-routine policy, regardless of facts and with no attempt to establish individual responsibility," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty.

Monday's decision comes amid growing outcry over the Egyptian government's widespread killings and indiscriminate fire on protests and rallies organized by the Muslim Brotherhood as well as pro-democracy advocates. Thousands of people have been subjected to mass arrests, incarceration, and unfair trials, including in military tribunals, while the state enjoys near impunity.

"So far, 415 people have been sentenced to death in four trials for the killing of police officers," Amnesty notes, "while the case against former President Hosni Mubarak, involving the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising, has been dropped."

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