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
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 sentenced in absentia. On October 12, 2017, the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial for activist Ahmed Douma. On January 9, 2019, the Cairo Criminal Court issued its verdict in the retrial for Ahmed Douma.
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. When the court conducted a retrial for Ahmed Douma, it ended up sentencing him to 15 years in prison and a fine of 6 million Egyptian pounds (LE).
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.
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 United States 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.” While activist Ahmed Douma’s trial upon second review was ongoing, he was sentenced to a fine of LE 10,000 for allegedly insulting the judiciary. During the announcement of the verdict in Douma’s retrial, the judge gave a long speech about the revolution and accused those who participated in it of “destroying the country.”
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.