Egypt death penalty alert: six young men face unjust execution after sham military trial

May 30, 2016

An Egyptian military court confirmed death sentences against eight young activists on trumped up charges on Sunday, EgyptWatch has learnt. Six of those sentenced to death are in custody, while two were sentenced in absentia.

The trial has been marred by enforced disappearances and torture to extract confessions, lawyers told EgyptWatch.

EgyptWatch is concerned that the six defendants may face execution in the same manner as the victims of the Arab Sharkas case, who were hanged despite evidence by Human Rights Watch that the charges against them were trumped up.

Military trials against civilians violate international law and multiple international human rights conventions to which Egypt is a signatory.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 7,420 civilians have been tried in military courts since October 2014, when General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi issued a new law that expanded the jurisdiction of military courts to include any attacks on public properties regardless of their military nature.

Below is a summary of the case:


Case name: Advanced Operations Case, no. 174/2015, Criminal Military Court, Western Cairo

Number of defendants: 28

Verdicts: Eight sentenced to death, 12 to life imprisonment, six to 15 years imprisonment, and two acquitted.


  1. Planning to target high profile figures in Egypt, including members of the Armed Forces and Police.
  2. Acts of sabotage against power transformers and communications operations, under instructions from the Muslim Brotherhood.
  3. Manufacturing explosive devices.


  • According to lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, the military prosecution relied entirely on the testimony of a military intelligence officer, Hani Soltan, in addition to the confessions extracted from the defendants under torture.
  • No hard evidence was presented to corroborate the charges.
  • Charges are based on accusations of “the intention to kill”, rather than actual acts of murder.
  • Arrests took place without prior warning, and no weapons were found in the homes of the defendants at the time of arrest. Only mobile phones were confiscated by the security services.

Place of detention: Tora high security prison

Date of arrest: Defendants were forcibly disappeared from 28 May until 10 July 2015 when they appeared for the first time in a video broadcast on national television in which they confessed to the charges.

Timeline of the trial:

28 May 2015: Defendants forcibly disappeared

10 July 2015: Defendants appear in a recorded video on national television confessing to the charges

26 August 2015: Defendants referred to military trial

6 September 2015: First trial session

7 February 2016: Eight defendants sentenced to death, their verdicts referred to the Mufti for ratification

29 May 2016: Court confirms death sentences for eight defendants, jail sentences for 18, and acquits two.


Circumstances of arrest:

Torture to extract false confessions:

  • All jailed defendants were subjected to torture to extract confessions.
  • Torture methods included hanging from the hands while hanging a weight on the feet, blindfolding during the entire period of detention, genital electrocution, waterboarding, beating the skin using flamed material, sexual assaults, arresting relatives and torturing them before the defendant to force him to film confessions.
  • Ahmed al-Ghazali, one of the defendants sentenced to death, told his lawyer that he suffered torture for 44 consecutive days.
  • The judge refused to grant the tortured defendants the right to be inspected by the forensic medicine authorities to prove signs of torture on their bodies.


Names of the eight defendants sentenced to death:

  1. Ahmed Al Ghazali (BSc in Sciences; born 14 April 1990)
  2. Mohamed Fawzi (Electrical Engineer; born 12 March 1992)
  3. Ahmed Mostafa Mohamed (Telecommunications expert; born 2 April 1975)
  4. Reda Moatamed Fahmy (Chemist; born 1 May 1977)
  5. Mahmoud al-Sharif (born 15 October 1986)
  6. Abdelbaseer Abdel-Raouf (Student; born 28 August 1996)
  7. Abdallah Nour El Din (Sentenced in absentia; Student; born 26 September 1991)
  8. Ahmed Abdel Baset (Sentenced in absentia; teaching assistant at Cairo University’s School of Sciences; born 5 May 1985)


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