.
.
.
.

U.S. slams mass sentencing of 230 Egyptians

Egypt is a key ally of the U.S. in counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai

Published: Updated:

The United States condemned life sentences meted out Wednesday to more than 200 Egyptian activists over the 2011 revolt against former president Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt is a key ally of the U.S. in counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai, but Washington has been caught in a dilemma on how to maintain ties while not appearing to sanction the rolling back of democracy.

“We are deeply troubled by the mass life sentences handed down by an Egyptian court to 230 defendants,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“Mass trials and sentences run counter to the most basic democratic principles and due process under the law,” she said, adding it “seems impossible that a fair review of evidence and testimony could be achieved under these circumstances.”

All 269 defendants were convicted of taking part in clashes with security forces near Cairo’s Tahrir Square in December 2011, an Egyptian judicial official said, asking to remain anonymous.

Thirty-nine of them, all minors, were jailed for 10 years.

The verdict, which can be appealed, is the harshest delivered so far against non-Islamist activists amid a government crackdown on opponents overseen by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Hundreds of Islamist supporters of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi, have been sentenced to death after often speedy trials described by the United Nations as “unprecedented in recent history.”