One of the Muslim Brotherhood members who was sentenced to death in a mass ruling on April 28 has said the decision was an honor for him, suggesting that justice is “dead” in the country.
“The decision is not only made up of executions. The important thing is where is Egypt headed? We see that the principle of justice has ended. The country is ridiculed in the world,” said Shaban Omar, the provincial Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) leader of Minya. “But death from execution is a great honor for us … I will be a martyr if they kill me … By the resistance of free people, God willing, the coup will end.”
The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and rights groups have all condemned the death sentences handed to 683 brotherhood supporters.
Omar arrived in Turkey last week from Qatar but his family is still in the southern province to protest the rulings. He said he departed for Qatar three months after the military toppled President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 but told nobody because of worries that has telephone was being wiretapped.
Omar told daily Hürriyet that he had expected the decision after the same court had given 529 death sentences in March.
He also rejected the accusation that he beat a police officer in Minya in August. “This is slander. The police killed the officer because he did not open fire on protesters. They accused the brotherhood but on the same day, six members of the organization were killed,” he said. “I was there when the officer was killed. I saw it with my own eyes. Police killed him.”
The U.S. urged Egypt to reverse the court decision. “Today’s verdict, like the one last month, defies even the most basic standards of international justice,” the White House said. “This verdict cannot be reconciled with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was “alarmed” by the death sentences and feared it could impact the entire region, his spokesman said.
“Verdicts that clearly appear not to meet basic fair trial standards, particularly those which impose the death penalty, are likely to undermine prospects for long-term stability,” Ban said, according to spokesman Stephane Dujarric. The U.N. chief plans to discuss his concerns with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy later this week.
The Minya court, presided over by judge Said Youssef Sabry, is set to confirm the death sentences on June 21. However, it also reversed 492 of 529 previous death sentences it passed in March, commuting most of them to life imprisonment.