Top News: Egyptian Court Sentences 529 Muslim Brotherhood Members to Death

On Monday, the Minya criminal court sentenced 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death in the largest such sentencing in Egypt’s modern history.

PEC to announce elections registration date March 30; Presidency will not revise elections law
Egypt’s Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) is to meet on March 30 to announce a registration date for the candidates who will stand in the country’s presidential elections, a judicial source said on Saturday. All potential candidates need to be already included in the voter database by March 30, the source added. According to rules governing the electoral process, army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will have to resign before the end of the month to be eligible for inclusion in the voter database. However, according to Aswat Masriya, Judge Hamdan Fahmy said that the presidential elections committee will announce the timeline of the upcoming election on Monday. Meanwhile, the presidency said it “cannot respond” to proposed amendments to the Presidential Elections Law due to the current situation of Egypt’s transition period. The presidency approved the immunization of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission against appeals on its decisions, the president’s constitutional advisor said. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 3/23/2014]

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Activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah released on bail
Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, currently on trial on charges of organizing an illegal protest, were released late Sunday, after a Cairo criminal court ordered their release on bail. The two men were ordered to be released on bail of 10,000 EGP each. Both Abdel-Fattah and Abdel-Rahman had been detained since last November in Cairo’s Tora prison and persistently demanded their release in court proceedings. All other defendants have been released on bail. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya 3/23/2014]

Egyptian court sentences 529 Muslim Brotherhood members to death
On Monday, the Minya criminal court sentenced 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death in the largest such sentencing in Egypt’s modern history. The unprecedented verdict, amid an extensive crackdown on Morsi supporters, is likely to be overturned on appeal, legal experts said. The defendants in the southern province of Minya are part of a larger group of more than 1,200 alleged Islamists accused of killing policemen and rioting on August 14, after police killed hundreds of protesters while dispersing two Cairo protest camps. Varying media outlets reported that between 375 and 400 of the defendants were tried in absentia. The court also acquitted sixteen other defendants. Defense lawyer Mohamed Tousson said the judge rammed through the sentencing after he was angered by a lawyer who demanded his recusal in the first session. “He didn’t even ascertain the presence of the detained defendants, he only got to the 51st defendant,” Tousson said. “A lawyer then demanded his recusal. He got very angry, and adjourned the trial for sentencing.” [Ahram Online, AFP, AP, Reuters, Mada Masr, AMAY (Arabic), 3/24/2014]

Egypt court denies bail for twenty Al-Jazeera journalists
The trial of twenty Al-Jazeera journalists accused of aiding or joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood was adjourned for a third time on Monday, with the defendants’ request for bail denied by the court. The trial will resume on March 31. Monday’s session saw the prosecution accusing the defendants of possessing “devices” without a permit. However, the prosecuting lawyer was interrupted by Mohamed Fahmy, one of the defendants, who said that there was only one device in question and that it had been also owned by several private Egyptian TV channels, including CBC and ONTV.  [Ahram Online, 3/24/2014]

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  • Former Al-Ahram advertising chief detained over corruption allegations | Ahram Online
  • Families of jailed Al-Jazeera journalists remain optimistic | DNE
  • Morsi incitement trial adjourned to April 5 | Ahram Online


Egypt targets a growth rate of 3.4 percent during next fiscal year
Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby announced that the interim government is aiming to grow GDP by 3-3.4 percent during the next fiscal year. Previously, Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian stated that he expected growth during the current fiscal year (FY 2013-14) to range between 2-2.5 percent. During the first quarter of FY 2013-14, GDP grew by just 1 percent. [DNE, 3/22/2014]

UAE backs Egypt’s economic recovery plan
Cooperation ties between the UAE and Egypt were deep-rooted and remain strong since the relationship was established, according to the Minister of State, Dr, Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber. He added that the UAE is ready to give its full cooperation to push forward the economic growth in Egypt, noting there were trends to attract more investments in Egypt. [WAM, 3/24/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt planning negotiations with Russia-led Customs Union over free trade zone | DNE
  • Egyptian stocks slip on Sunday due to profit-taking | Ahram Online
  • Egypt tourism totally collapsed, changes needed – minister | Aswat Masriya


April 6 launches campaign to revoke protest law
Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement launched a petition Saturday calling for the cancellation of the controversial protest law. The movement added that it has already held meetings with members of the constituent assembly, which drafted Egypt’s new national charter, and national figures and plan to move with all political forces in order to lobby for the cancellation of the law. Signatories of the petition approve the cancellation of the law, which the movement says has faced popular opposition and is unconstitutional. They also call for the law to be redrafted “to regulate and protect the right to demonstrate according to the constitution” and that it “not be use to harass opponents.” [DNE, Ahram Online, 3/24/2014]

Students, activists call for detainees’ release
Eight political forces have announced that they will organize a protest rally Monday in many governorates across the country to demand the release of what they deem political detainees, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported. The Strong Egypt Party, April 6 Youth Movement, Revolutionary Socialists and a number of other groups have signed a statement calling for a protest on 6 October Bridge in Cairo, as well as in Alexandria, Giza, Damietta, Gharbeya, Port Said, Sharqyia and other governorates. An unrelated demonstration erupted in Alexandria yesterday where hundreds of Alexandria University students protested on campus on Sunday, demanding the release of colleagues who were arrested last term in clashes with police. According Al-Ahram Arabic, the protesting students held signs depicting the four-fingered Raba’a symbol, a gesture of support for supporters of Mohamed Morsi. They also held photos of their detained colleagues. [Ahram Online 3/23/2014]

NASL calls for protests on Wednesday
The Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) has called for new wave of protests against the interim authorities in Egypt that toppled the former President Mohamed Morsy in 2013.The call comes in the wake of death sentence given to 529 Muslim Brotherhood suspects, over involvement in riots that followed dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins in August. The alliance addressed revolutionaries in a statement calling for a positive revolutionary escalation against police and military. [Egypt Independent, 3/24/2014]

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  • Strike by Egyptian vets is a ‘success’: Syndicate head | Ahram Online
  • Doctors Syndicate to launch mass resignation campaign | DNE
  • ‘70 percent’ of Postal Authority workers striking nationwide: Union leader | DNE


Policeman shot dead in Sinai’s Arish
Unknown assailants shot a policeman dead in North Sinai on Monday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.”Ramadan Ghoneim Abd al-Samad was heading to his work at the security directory in Arish when he was shot dead,” according to the ministry’s statement on Facebook. The authorities imposed a security cordon around the crime scene until they determine the identity of the perpetrators. [Aswat Masriya 3/24/2014]

Two explosive devices found at Cairo University amid ongoing unrest
A bomb squad defused on Sunday two bombs that were located inside Cairo University, state television reported. The two bombs were found on campus inside the faculty of economics and political sciences, deputy security director of Cairo University told satellite channel ONTV. It was not possible to attain further details. [Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya3/23/2014]

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  • Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis announces affiliation with Arab Sharkas terrorists | Egypt Independent


Egypt considering importing weapons from Russia
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told journalists Sunday that the Interior Ministry was considering a weapons deal with Russia since the United States and European Union were “stifling” arms imports after Mohamed Morsi’s July 3 ouster, state-run Al-Ahram reported. Ibrahim, who was appointed to his post by ousted, Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi, said the ministry was looking to Russia because of a lack of arms to combat “terrorist elements.”
According to Ibrahim, such “elements” are mostly Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated militants.
“The terrorist groups are hiding in rural areas and shanty towns, and so we need adequate investigations and preparation in order to make a proper attack plan for such places,” Al-Ahram quoted Ibrahim as saying. [Ahram Online, DNE 3/24/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Qatar, Turkey excluded from Cairo Islamic meeting | Gulf News
  • Hamas rally in Gaza takes aim at Egypt, Israel and Abbas | Reuters
  • Egyptian army meets with Israeli side during tri-annual meeting | DNE
  • Sisi meets with South Sudanese Defense Minister | DNE
  • Foreign Minister meets with Kuwaiti leaders ahead of 25th Arab League Summit | DNE