Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (10 September) on the judgements in the trial regarding the dispersal of the Rabaa protest camp:
I am very distressed about the 75 death sentences that were handed down on Saturday in the trial examining the dispersal of the Rabaa protest camp in Egypt.
Just like the European Union as a whole, Germany is opposed to the death penalty whatever the circumstances. The rule of law and the principles of a fair trial examining each case individually were not able to be applied in a mass trial with a total of 739 accused. Nevertheless, all the accused were found guilty and given either the death penalty or a prison sentence of between 5 and 25 years. I hope that the Egyptian appeals court will examine these judgements and ensure that international legal standards are respected.
In the same trial, the UNESCO prizewinner and photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, was handed down a five-year prison sentence. I am relieved that he will now finally be released after five years in custody. I nevertheless consider it intolerable that Shawkan, just like others of the accused, is obliged to report to a police station on a daily basis.
On Saturday, 8 September, the judgements in the so called Rabaa Dispersal Case were announced. In August 2013, more than 800 people lost their lives when a protest camp on Rabaa al Adawiya square in Cairo was dispersed by the military and security forces. There were a total of 739 accused and 75 were sentenced to death. The convictions can be appealed, that is, they are not yet final.
The photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, who reported on the clearing of the camp in August 2013, was released provided he reports to a police station on a daily basis for the next five years. Observers fear that, despite him having served his prison sentence, he will not actually be in a position to work as a journalist and not be able to live a life in liberty.