Mass sentencing has become a regular occurrence in Egypt civil and military courts; especially after Morsi was ousted as President.
Here’s another shocking case which reveals that these sentences may not actually be for real criminal charges.
In a bizzare incident last week, the Police in Egypt set out to arrest a toddler, who was believed to be a criminal.
According to a strange verdict by the Egyptian military court, young boy Ahmed Mansour Qorany Sharara was declared guilty, along with 115 others, of murdering three people and damaging public and private property during a political demonstration in January 2014.
Ironically, Ahmed was merely 16 months old when he was accused of the crime.
Shockingly, the court sentenced the child to life in prison in a decision declared last week.
Why and how could this happen in Egypt?
The boy’s father has been through a harrowing experience in 2014, when the police first approached their home to arrest Ahmed.
Realising that he was only a toddler, the police then arrested his father Mr Sharara instead.
He was then held in custody for about four months, before being released by a judge. Now, a year and a half later, Ahmed is three years old and has been hit by misfortune again.
However, this time the officials have promised not to arrest the father or son.
Underlining the folly of the situation, lawyer Mahmoud Abu Kaf told CNN, “If it is true that it was a mistaken identity, why did they come to arrest the boy? Why haven’t security arrested the right defendant then?”
These are definitely very valid issues raised.
It was highly inappropriate of the state’s legal system to convict a mere toddler of a serious criminal offence, especially since it could cause the child and his family to be outcasts in the community.
Secondly, this incident also highlights serious loopholes in the running of Egypt’s military court.
If it was a mere case of mistaken identity, why did the officials go ahead with the arrest, even to the extent of detaining the boy’s father for four months?
According to the military, this arrest has been made following the January 2014 protest by those who supported overthrown President Mohamed Morsi which led to clashes in Fayyoum.
Lawyer Abu Kaf said, “Security submitted their investigations 24 hours after the incident took place, naming 116 defendants. We wanted to tell the judge that these are invalid investigations and our proof is the inclusion of the child, and a man who was out of the country when the incident in question took place, among the defendants.”
Why is this incident so disturbing?
As correctly pointed out by human rights activists, such mass sentencing may be faulty in judgement, and used as a tool for oppression, as seen in this toddler’s case.
Karim Ennarah, criminal justice researcher said about Egypt’s criminal justice system, “The main problem with that is that there are probably other cases that are not as striking where such mistakes are not corrected because you are not talking about a 2-year-old child, and the outcry is not as big – especially if you look at the number of people who are being processed by the criminal justice system at the moment. I would go as far as saying it is disintegrating, the justice system. It’s on the verge of complete dysfunctionality. It’s a troubling trend and it will probably lead to just wide mistrust in the judiciary system, which has long-term effects that will be very difficult to reverse.”
The Egyptian military should ensure that no innocent people are arrested or tortured as a result of the inaccurate decisions made by its court. Or is will loose more of its credibility and stability.