Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Western criticism of death sentences is 'flagrant interference' in #Egypt: Foreign ministry

Egypt hits back at international condemnation of recent death sentences issued against Muslim Brotherhood leaders and others linked with the group

Egypt

Egypt's foreign ministry has defended a recent rash of death sentences against Islamists accused of violence, slamming western condemnation of the rulings as "flagrant interference" in its judicial system.

In the latest of a series of mass death sentences, a court on Saturday confirmed death sentences for the spiritual leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, Mohamed Badie, Muslim Brotherhood member and journalist Hani Salah and 12 others over violence-related charges. Dozens of others were given life terms, including an Egyptian-American, Mohamed Soltan, who was convicted of supporting the Islamist group and transmitting false news.

New-York based Human Rights Watch condemned the sentences as "politically motivated" and "blatantly unjust," while the White House called for the immediate release of 27-year-old Soltan, a dual national.

On Tuesday, Egypt's foreign ministry snapped back, condemning countries that "deliberately distort truths and mischaracterise things, overlooking the fact that such verdicts are issued by completely independent judicial bodies that are trusted by the masses of Egyptian people."

In a statement it called on states which it said "install themselves as sponsor[s] of the human rights situation in the world" to focus efforts on giving attention to the conditions of their people and confronting racism directed against particular groups.

The men sentenced earlier this week were among thousands of people detained following the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 as part of a sweeping crackdown on his supporters and allies.

The government has banned the Brotherhood, designating it a terrorist organisation, but the group has said it is committed to peaceful activism.

The rulings can be appealed before the Court of Cassation, the country's highest judicial authority which has overturned dozens of previous death sentences against Islamists.