Top News: Egyptian Court Sentences Fourteen to Death Fourteen Killed in Sinai Attacks

The Cairo Criminal Court ratified on Saturday death sentences served to Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and thirteen other Brotherhood leaders. Thirty-seven other defendants were sentenced to life in prison, including Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan.


Ministry of defense announces reshuffle of top military officers
Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhi has made several new appointments in the Egyptian military’s leadership. These include the appointment of Mohamed al-Shahat as head of the Military Intelligence Services, Nasser al-Assy as chief commander of the Second Field Army, and Osama Mounir as chief of the Navy. The new appointments are a continuation of a wave of promotions, as former Intelligence Chief Salah Badry was promoted to Deputy Minister of Defense. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, SIS, 4/13/2015]

Sisi issues legislation maximizing penalty for digging border tunnels
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued on Sunday legislation punishing those who dig or use border tunnels for communication with foreign countries with life in prison. The draft law amends article 82 in the penal code, adding that the life-in-prison penalty would punish whoever “digs, prepares or uses a road, a passage or an underground tunnel at border areas to communicate with a foreign body, a state or one of its subjects,” or to help persons, goods, equipment or machines in and out of the country. The same penalty applies to those who are aware of the use (or planned use) of underground tunnels for the aforementioned purposes without informing the concerned authorities, the legislation adds. The legislation also allows the government to seize any buildings beneath which tunnels are dug or tools used to dig them. [AFP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 4/12/2015]

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Egyptian court sentences fourteen Brotherhood leaders to death, Egyptian-American to life
The Cairo Criminal Court ratified on Saturday death sentences served to Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and thirteen other Brotherhood leaders. The son of leading member and businessman Hassan Malek, Omar, as well as leading member Saad al-Hosseiny are also among those sentenced to death. Former Brotherhood spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan and leading member Saad Emara were sentenced to death in absentia. Thirty-seven other defendants were sentenced to life in prison, including Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan and Saad al-Shater, son of Brotherhood strongman Khairat al-Shater. In the same case, and for the first time in Egypt, thirteen journalists received life sentences, while a journalist with the Freedom and Justice Party, Walid Abdel Raouf Shalaby, was sentenced to death. The defendants can appeal the verdict. Defense lawyer Halim Henish said the defense team plans to appeal, and is confident the verdict will be overturned. The defendants are mainly charged with “spreading lies through the operations room.” The Journalists Syndicate’s freedoms committee said Saturday that it would form a legal committee to study how to obtain the release of all the journalists.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) described the verdict as “politically motivated” and “blatantly unjust.” [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, The Guardian, 4/12/2015]

Egypt’s prosecutor-general denies torture inside Abu Zaabal prison
Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat on Saturday said that prisoners inside Cairo’s Abu Zaabal prison had not been physically abused or tortured, following a damning report from a national human rights body on conditions inside the prison. A statement issued by his office declared that a medical examination of prisoners at the prison had found that their bodies did not show any traces of torture or injury. The statement added that, during the general prosecution’s inspections of Egyptian prisons, including that of Abu Zabaal, prisoners complained only of a lack of ventilation inside prison wards and cells. Late in March, a committee from the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) inspected the Abu Zaabal prison, and reported that prisoners there had been badly beaten, as well as denied access to toilets, drinking water, and sufficient food. [Ahram Online, 4/12/2015]

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World Bank secures $400 million to support 1.5 million Egyptian families
The World Bank approved $400 million to Egypt’s government for a project set to benefit 1.5 million poor Egyptian families. Earlier this year, Egypt’s government established conditional cash transfer projects called “Takaful and Karama” (Solidarity and Dignity). Takaful targets poor families with children under eighteen to send them to schools, while Karama targets the elderly and the disabled who cannot earn a living wage. The World Bank believes the Takaful and Karama projects will “improve the … social safety net system, which is a critical element to accompany any reforms,” said Hafez Ghanem, the Bank’s regional vice president for the Middle East and North Africa. [DNE, Ahram Online, 4/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Government working on resolving the issues of hampered factories says Prime Minister | DNE
  • Imports of Ramadan lanterns banned says Abdel Nour | DNE
  • 45 percent decrease in non-tax revenues during eight months | DNE
  • Number of tourists visiting Egypt drops 5.5 percent in February 2015 | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s trade deficit decreases 19.45 billion pounds in January | Aswat Masriya
  • Finance ministry willing to allocate EGP1 billion to boost solar energy | Egypt Independent


Journalist arrested over articles critical of police
Egypt has arrested a journalist on claims he is wanted in seven different cases, just days after he published a series of critical articles about the police. The Interior ministry announced Sunday, it ordered the arrest of Hussein Abdel Halim, a reporter at al-Dostour newspaper, on Saturday as part of a routine round-up of fugitives. The statement claimed Abdel Halim is wanted for multiple cases dating back to 2003, including drugs, theft, and bribery. A ministry statement also requested that the Public Prosecutor launch an investigation related to Abdel Halim’s recent series of articles critical of the security apparatus. [DNE, AP, 4/12/2015]

Salafi Call says Easter celebrations by Muslims prohibited
The Salafi Call attacked Easter celebrations and distributed a pamphlet on Saturday to its members, urging them to stay away from celebrating the holiday and not to go to the parks or eat eggs or any other Easter-related activities. “Celebrating Sham al-Nessim (Egypt’s Pharaonic holiday that coincides with Easter) is not permissible because Islam has only two feasts,” read the pamphlet. Traditions associated with Sham al-Nessim are Pharaonic habits, it added, pointing out that Prophet Mohamed did not celebrate the holiday. Salafi scholar Abu Eshaq al-Huwainy issued a fatwa prohibiting the sale of food known to be used for celebrating the holiday. [Egypt Independent, 4/12/2015]

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Attacks on troops in Egypt’s Sinai kill at least fourteen; ISIS posts new beheading video in Egypt
At least fourteen people, mostly Egyptian policemen, were killed Sunday in separate operations when militants attacked a police station in al-Arish, and detonated a roadside bomb against a passing armored vehicle, officials said. In the largest of the day’s attacks, a suspected car bomber detonated his vehicle at the entrance of a large police station in al-Arish, killing at least seven people and wounding over forty. Meanwhile, a roadside bomb attack on an army vehicle killed six soldiers and wounded two near the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid. A Twitter feed that describes itself as the official account for Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attacks. On Saturday, ABM had posted a video online appearing to show them shooting dead an Egyptian soldier and beheading another captive. In the video, the soldier said militants had managed to kill his colleagues and steal two tanks and other weapons. A soldier was also shot dead by unidentified gunmen in North Sinai’s Rafah on Monday. An Egyptian security official says a sniper using a silenced weapon killed the soldier. [AP, Reuters, AFP, 4/13/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Small bombs explode at two churches in Egypt’s Zagazig Sunday, no injuries | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian low-ranking police officer shoots colleagues over disagreement | Ahram Online
  • Two security personnel injured in Helwan bomb explosion | DNE
  • Conscript wounded by gunshot in Rafah checkpoint | Egypt Independent


United States condemns life sentence against Egyptian-American
The White House lashed out at Egypt on Saturday for jailing a US-Egyptian citizen for life over Islamist protest violence, calling for his “immediate release.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement, “The United States condemns the life sentence issued today in Egypt against American citizen Mohamed Soltan.” The White House called for Soltan’s “immediate release.”  US State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement, “The US government is deeply disappointed in the Egyptian court’s decision in the case of US citizen Mohamed Soltan.” The State Department statement expressed deep concern over Soltan’s health due to the hunger strike, and reiterated calls for his release on humanitarian grounds. Meanwhile, in a phone call with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation in various fields in order to achieve common goals, said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Badr Abdel Atty on Monday, as well as discussing regional issues. [AP, DNE, 4/13/2015]

Egypt condemns Turkey’s ‘unacceptable interference’ in judicial affairs 
Egypt’s foreign ministry expressed on Monday its “strong disapproval” of what it described as a Turkish “intervention” in judicial affairs, in the wake of fourteen death sentences issued to Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters. “The foreign ministry reiterates its utter refusal of any state’s interference in the Egyptian judiciary’s work and disrespect to its rulings,” the ministry said in a statement, describing such interference as a violation of the separation of power principle. Turkey’s foreign ministry had condemned the sentences in a statement issued on Sunday, describing the trial as “politically motivated.” [DNE, Aswat Masriya, 4/13/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Egypt-Ethiopia ties development not at expense of other members of Nile Basin | SIS