Last updated: 14 February, 2012

Egypt repeals death sentence of bombing suspects

Egypt has quashed death sentences against three men convicted of involvement in attacks in the Sinai Peninsula after their trials were deemed unfair, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said on Tuesday.

The three men — Mohammed Gayez Sabbah, Usama al-Nakhlawi and Yunes Abu-Gareer — had been sentenced to death in connection with 2004 bombings in the Red Sea resorts of Taba and Nuweiba and 2005 bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The decision to rescind the sentence came after the adoption by the African Union of a decision of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, said the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), which brought the case together with human rights group Interights.

The African Commission found “Egypt in violation of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights for the torture of the three men and their unfair trial in a special emergency court,” it said.

The three men were among thousands rounded up by Egyptian authorities after the bombings.

“They were held incommunicado detention and subjected to torture including electric shocks, beatings and hanging by their hands and legs for days and weeks on end,” EIPR said in a statement.

“During their months of torture and interrogation by intelligence services, they were denied access to lawyers and to medical treatment.

“They were convicted on the basis of confessions extracted under torture and sentenced to death with no right of appeal,” it said.

The Commission, which found multiple rights violations, called for the immediate release of the three and for their compensation.

It also called for a reform of the State Security Courts “so that they become independent and capable of providing a fair trial… and to bring their emergency laws into line with international standards,” EIPR said.

The decision “is a welcome and significant development, but the Egyptian government must now take further measures to prevent the recurrence of these abuses, including by immediately lifting the state of emergency,” said Hossam Bahgat, EIPR director.

The major Red Sea beach resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba and Dahab all witnessed bloody attacks between 2004 and 2006 which killed a total of 130 people.

After the bombings,the government of ousted president Hosni Mubarak launched a massive crackdown in the Sinai, detaining hundreds of Bedouins, some of whom remained in prison for years without trial and complained of torture.