A Federal Foreign Office spokesperson issued the following statement in Berlin today (5 February) on the decision of an Egyptian court to sentence 230 people to life in prison:
Once again an Egyptian court has handed down a disproportionately harsh mass sentence to hundreds of defendants, a move which is a serious violation of their right to a fair and proper trial. The German Government urgently calls on the authorities in Egypt to revise the sentences.
Citizens’ trust in the judiciary and the rule of law is a central pillar of every democracy and an important condition for stability and security. It is the task of every government to create the necessary framework conditions to guarantee the legal protection of its citizens.
This sentence ramps up the atmosphere of political intimidation and repression. This is a bad sign, especially in the run-up to the parliamentary elections due to take place in March.
On 4 February 2015, a court in Cairo handed down life sentences to 230 people. They are accused of taking part in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in December 2011 in which 18 people were killed. 39 minors were also sentenced to ten years in prison.
The only accused present at the trial was well-known democracy activist Ahmed Douma. He is currently serving a three-year sentence for violating the repressive law on public demonstrations. According to Egyptian criminal law, the maximum sentence is imposed automatically if a sentence is handed down in absentia.