I am deeply, deeply troubled by the sudden and unprecedented decision by an Egyptian court to issue preliminary death sentences for 529 citizens after a quick mass trial. It simply defies logic. There are many avenues of legitimate review for this judgment and I urge the appropriate Egyptian authorities to remedy the situation. This news simply does not reflect the values and goals to which the interim government has aspired publicly and privately.
The need for due process assumed greater urgency with the start of a new trial for nearly 700 more people in the same courtroom where the earlier judgment was rendered after a two-day summary proceeding in which the defendants were tried as a group rather than on the merits of individual cases. Many of those defendants were not even in the courtroom. It is impossible to believe that such a proceeding satisfied even the most basic standards of justice.
The interim government must understand the negative message that this decision, if upheld, would send to the world about Egypt's commitment to international law and inclusivity.
For three years, Egyptians have demanded responsive leadership that protects human rights and promotes economic opportunity. Many lost their lives in that struggle. Adhering to the new constitution and maintaining a criminal justice system free of intimidation and political retribution are essential functions of a legitimate government. I urge the interim Egyptian government to reverse the court ruling and ensure due process for the accused. Anything less would dishonor the bravery of all who sacrificed their lives for democratic values.