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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

March 24, 2014 - 3:16 pm

The State Department lashed out at Cairo today for the 529 death sentences handed down to Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the murder of a police commander.

Mostafa El-Attar, deputy commander of the Matay district police station, suffered a head injury as rioters surrounded his police station. News crews in the area showed angry protesters trying to attack him even as he was dying.

Sixteen defendants were acquitted of murder charges after it was proven they helped save another officer’s life, Al-Ahram reported.

The Brotherhood claimed only 22 of those sentenced are members of their group.

“We are deeply concerned, and I would say actually pretty shocked, by the sentencing to death of 529 Egyptians related to the death of one policeman, as well as the spate of violence against police stations and security personnel in the aftermath of the clearing of two squares in mid-August. It’s our understanding that over half of those convictions were in absentia. Obviously, the defendants can appeal, but it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony, consistent with international standards, could be accomplished with over 529 defendants in a two-day trial. It sort of defies logic,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters today.

“So we have continued to call on the Egyptian government to ensure that those detained are afforded fair proceedings that respect civil liberties and, as we’ve said many, many, many times, that the appearance of politically motivated arrests, detentions and convictions will just continue to move Egypt’s democratic transition backwards and not forwards, like we hope it does.”

When asked if the administration was just shocked or “outraged” to the point of taking action, Harf replied, “Well, what action are you suggesting we take?”

“We’re talking to the Egyptian government. We’re trying to ascertain all the facts here. Obviously, as I said, it’s a pretty shocking number. But we’re gathering all the facts and determining what we do going forward. Our policy towards Egypt, all along, since July, has been governed by a few principles. One is that it’s an important relationship. The second is that we don’t want to completely cut off the relationship, as you saw when we made the decision about aid,” Harf said.

“The second is that there are principles that we stand up for that include things like right to free and fair trial, that we will continue pushing with the Egyptian government. And the third is that we will engage with all parties and all groups in Egypt to make sure that as their democratic transition moves forward, it’s done so in an inclusive manner.”

She added “I don’t know if they’re serious” about carrying through the death sentences, which will now be appealed.

“I don’t want to describe motives here or motivations here. What we’ve said is that everybody needs to be given a trial in accordance of international standards, and that politically — there’s no place for politically motivated arrests, detentions, convictions in a country that’s moving towards democracy.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
"“We are deeply concerned, and I would say actually pretty shocked, by the sentencing to death of 529 Egyptians related to the death of one policeman..."

This makes it sound as if the Egyptian court swept up everybody in the neighborhood and tried them for murder whether or not they actually had anything to do with it.

But in reality, even our system of jurisprudence might produce similar results. If 529 people took part in an attack on a police station, in which a policeman was killed, all 529 of them could be considered accomplices to murder under the felony murder rule. And a DA would be well justified in prosecuting each and every one of them, if he had evidence of their participation.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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I call this a good start by Egypt to rid themselves of vile terrorists, that won't and don't respect human life, and have a history of killing others, even without trials, just for having a different religious belief.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
529 is not enough.

Kill more Islamists.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
The hypocrisy on both sides is STUNNING!!
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's about right. I find it hard to believe that 541 people's roles were properly considered in a two-day hearing.
I'm an enemy of the Brotherhood. I'm even more an enemy of dictatorship and this sure looks like dictatorship.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
"“We are deeply concerned, and I would say actually pretty shocked, by the sentencing to death of 529 Egyptians related to the death of one policeman..."

This makes it sound as if the Egyptian court swept up everybody in the neighborhood and tried them for murder whether or not they actually had anything to do with it.

But in reality, even our system of jurisprudence might produce similar results. If 529 people took part in an attack on a police station, in which a policeman was killed, all 529 of them could be considered accomplices to murder under the felony murder rule. And a DA would be well justified in prosecuting each and every one of them, if he had evidence of their participation.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
And some may have been nearby but not participating. You'd need more than two days of evidence to consider the charges against each of 545 (I got the count wrong elsewhere) people.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps, but that would be for the trier of fact to determine (i don't know if the Egyptian system provides for juries). It wouldn't be a bar to the prosecution of anyone against whom there was evidence.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
omg she talks like a high school girl, like whoa death that's hardcore, we're pretty shocked.
Did she say "describe" or "ascribe" motives and motivations?
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder what State would have to say about 529 Mubarak supporters handed death sentences by the MB?

Probably crickets...

Chirp --- chirp --- ...

25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is appalling.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Democrats are jealous..."why can't we do this to the Republicans?"
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well I have to agree, that's not a valid or real court. If it were, they'd execute them all on the spot, that's the only way to have that kind of proceeding, and it still wouldn't be a court as such.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
They won't execute them. They're sending a message to make people think twice, and sheer fear will do that.
25 weeks ago
25 weeks ago Link To Comment
They most likely will execute them. They're not going to ignore the lesson of Venezuela.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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