Farcical trial

Farcical trial

It is shocking that a court in Egypt has sentenced to death 529 people in a single case that related to the protests against the military coup that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi last year. They were members of a protesting crowd in a small town near Cairo.

Such a wholesale death sentence is unprecedented in judicial history. The gross injustice of the verdict is clear from the fact that all of them were convicted on the charge of killing a single police man. How farcical the trial was can also be seen from the fact that it lasted only two days. Two days are not enough to bring and prove murder charges against even one person. So the verdict can only be taken as pre-determined or influenced by the military government which is in control of the country after the coup.

Morsi was elected President after the popular revolution of 2011 which ended the long dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak. The military leadership hit back later and removed him from power. His supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have since been targeted by the military and the secret police.

Thousands were killed and many more arrested in the crackdown. No one has been held accountable for these killings and the gross human rights violations which are still continuing. Egypt has gone back to the Mubarak days with only a change of the names of rulers. The military  government has not learnt any lessons from the people’s uprising of 2011.

Or it has learnt the wrong lesson that only harsher and more ruthless measures than those employed by the Mubarak regime could keep the people under control. The same court which awarded the 529 death sentences has started another mass trial of 682 others.

Apart from the use of force the military government is also planning to perpetuate its control through the holding of a Presidential election later this year, which the army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is expected to contest and win.

The government hopes that a draft constitution which it claims has been approved by over 98 per cent of voters in a referendum held in January will legitimise its control. Though the constitution has some acceptable features it ensures that the power will continue to rest with the military. The authoritarian system is only likely to continue.