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Maspero Massacre Case (Military Trial)

Court / Presiding Judge

Supreme Military Tribunal (Military Felonies: Eastern District)

Procedural History

The trial of the case began on December 27, 2011, and was adjourned multiple times before the verdict was issued on September 14, 2012.

Verdict

In Verdict No. 5441 of 2011, Mahmoud Sayyid Abdel Hamid Suleiman and Karam Hamid Muhammad Hamid were sentenced to two years in prison; Mahmoud Jamal Taha Mahmoud was sentenced to three years in prison.

Summary of Reasoning

The case dates back to the Maspero Massacre. The defendants were found guilty of unintentionally killing 14 protesters during the massacre. Under Article 238 of the Penal Code, manslaughter (the unintentional killing of a person) is punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years. The court charged the men with manslaughter after finding negligence and a lack of precaution while the men were driving military armored vehicles belonging to the armed forces. The court found that the vehicles were driven in a chaotic way that was not proportional with the crowded nature of the road, thus leading to the death of the victims.

Anecdotal Notes

In spite of various fact-finding reports implicating the military as the party primarily responsible for the Maspero Massacre, investigations on the role of security sector personnel’s involvement in the Maspero Massacre beyond this case have not proceeded. In May 2015, Egypt’s Copts Coalition submitted a renewed request to Ahmed al-Zend, then minister of justice, to reopen investigations.

Legal & Judicial Implications

Because of the deliberate nature involved in the driving of military vehicles and the severe violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution, some legal experts consider this case to have been improperly tried under a manslaughter theory. Instead, such experts argue that a deliberate murder theory should have been applied by the presiding judge.The overall failure of the court system to prosecute security forces for the Maspero Massacre, save for minor sentences of two or three years handed down to three members of the security forces, raises questions on the judiciary’s ability to bring justice to the most marginalized members of society in the face of continued violations perpetrated by the security sector.