Sisi targets those on death row

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appears poised to further crack down on dissent after announcing he would fast-track the judicial process in the aftermath of the assassination of the country’s lead prosecutor.

This week, Sisi promised new laws that will allow Egyptian courts to speed up hearings, and appeared to suggest that the appeals process would be circumvented to guarantee the execution of those on death row.

Speaking at the funeral of Hisham Barakat, the state prosecutor killed in a car bomb on Monday, Sisi said: “The arm of justice is chained by the law. We’re not going to wait for this. We’re going to amend the law to allow us to implement justice as soon as possible.”

Repeating the words “the law, the law”, Sisi added: “If there is a death sentence, a death sentence shall be enforced.”

According to the current process, a death sentence can only be enforced after lengthy appeals.


Sisi enacting authoritarian laws

But as Egypt has been without a sitting Parliament for two years, Sisi, as the country’s sole elected official, can issue laws by decree. As a result, he may technically be able to change the speed at which executions can be completed.

Legal experts believe he is already enacting authoritarian laws at a rate not seen in Egypt for 60 years.

The investigation into Barakat’s death has yet to be completed. But, by referring to the subject of executions, Sisi appeared to imply that the assassination was carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders, including former president Mohamed Morsi, are on death row pending appeal. Egypt’s public relations arm has already blamed the Brotherhood by name.

But although Barakat was one of the main architects of the crackdown on the Brotherhood – pursuing controversial cases in which thousands of alleged members were arrested, and hundreds sentenced to death in mass trials that lasted just minutes – the group itself has denied responsibility for his death.

Analysts believe the murder instead bears the hallmarks of an Islamic State affiliate in Egypt that carried out a similar assassination attempt on Egypt’s then interior minister in 2013.

Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian government not to use Barakat’s death “as a pretext for trampling upon human rights”. But Sisi’s speech, as well as wider local reaction, suggest the call may fall on deaf ears. Following Barakat’s death, one of the most popular slogans on Egyptian social media was: “Execute the Brotherhood.”

In a separate development on Tuesday, the Cairo correspondent for the leading Spanish newspaper, El Pais, revealed he had fled from Egypt after being warned by his embassy that he risked arrest. At least 18 journalists are behind bars in Egypt, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

The brutal beauty of Morocco’s Soccer Ultras

Raja Casablanca's fan clubs are well organised, politically active and occasionally violent

Egypt’s protests uncover deep cracks in al-Sisi’s strongman façade

The popular uprising is an indication that al-Sisi's regime is not as stable as he would have the world believe

The videos behind Egypt’s unrest

An Egyptian businessman in exile in Spain has been sparking protests back home with his posts

Could Egypt’s rare anti-Sisi protests swell?

Heavy security has been put in place, but could this trigger a wider movement against former general-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi?

Afcon, a tool to clean Egypt and the CAF’s images

Egypt are on course for a record eighth title. But the Egyptian government won’t be measuring success by a trophy

The slow-motion assassination of Mohamed Morsi

Morsi was often kept in solitary confinement, while struggling with both diabetes and high blood pressure
Advertising

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

Tito needs the IMF, South Africa doesn’t

The IMF loan is given with false motivation — to provide political cover for entrenched neoliberalism and deep cuts in the public service

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday