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Cabinet Clashes Case

Court / Presiding Judge

First Review: Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Nagy Shehata
Retrial (for some defendants sentenced in absentia): Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Nagy Shehata
Second Review (for Ahmed Douma): Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Muhammad Shereen Fahmy

Procedural History

On February 4, 2015, the court issued its verdict. On July 25, 2017, the court issued its verdict for the retrial of a number of defendants who had been originally sentenced in absentia. On October 12, 2017, the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial for activist Ahmed Douma and on January 9, 2019, the court issued its verdict.

Verdict

Upon first review, the court sentenced activist Ahmed Douma and 229 others to life in prison. The court also collectively fined the defendants LE17 million. The court sentenced 39 other defendants, all of whom were minors, to 10 years in prison. When the court conducted a retrial of some of the defendants originally sentenced in absentia, it sentenced 43 defendants to life in prison, nine minors to 10 years in prison, and one defendant to five years in prison. Ninety-two of the defendants were acquitted. Upon second review of the case, Ahmed Douma was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined LE6 million.

Summary of Reasoning

The case dates back to the cabinet clashes of December 2012, when clashes broke out between security forces and protesters, leading to the death of at least 18. The defendants faced charges of illegal assembly, the acquisition of arms, assault on police and military forces, the burning of the Egyptian Scientific Institute and the vandalism of other government buildings, including the cabinet and parliament buildings.

Anecdotal Notes

The Lawyers Syndicate issued a decision to boycott the case as it was ongoing because of due process violations, including arbitrary treatment by the judge, unequal access to documents, and refusal of the defense’s witnesses. When the initial verdicts were issued, the U.S. Department of State expressed concern about the verdicts and stated that mass trials like this one “run counter to the most basic democratic principles and due process under the law ... It simply seems impossible that a fair review of evidence and testimony could be achieved under these circumstances.” When issuing the verdict for Douma's retrial, the judge delivered a politicized oratory in which he referred to those who participated in the revolution as “a group of idiots and mercenaries who are intellectually defeated and socially bankrupt.” He also called them “liars, deceivers, social climbers, spiteful imposters…who falsify the truth and mislead the public,” in an attempt to upset the stability of the nation and to create a division between “the people and their protectors.” The judge made sure to emphasize that if “his hands were not tied” due to the law, he would have sentenced Douma to a much heavier prison term.

Legal & Judicial Implications

Because the case is a mass trial in which a number of defendants were prosecuted collectively, the case raises numerous implications regarding the right to a fair trial and due process. Further, the involvement of Judge Nagy Shehata in this case in light of his public statements condemning opposition figures and members of the Muslim Brotherhood even outside the courtroom raises serious questions on whether the defendants could have ever been granted a fair trial. Finally, the nature of Judge Mohamed Shereen Fahmy's oratory at the verdict pronouncement of Ahmed Douma's retrial raises serious questions on his lack of access to a fair and non-politicized trial.