A Cairo criminal court Sunday postponed to 1 March the case of 23 defendants charged with attacking the Kerdasa police station in 2013.
The 23 accused include 15 held in custody, with the remaining eight charged currently fugitives. They are collectively charged with destruction of public property, vandalism and the killing of police officer Mahmoud Ibrahim Abdul Latif. They are also charged with attempted murder, illegal possession of weapons and the use of violence against police officers.
Judge Nagy Shehata ordered the case’s extension to collect further witness testimonies and expert opinion on the incidents that took place on 3 July 2013, according to state-news. The attack occurred on the same night that former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted from the presidency.
The case is one of a number of controversial mass trials focusing on disturbances in the village of Kerdasa following the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood president. Judge Nagy Shehata’s decision to hand out death penalties to 183 defendants charged with storming the police station in a separate case in August 2013, brought international condemnation. The ruling, which also gave a 10-year prison sentence to a minor, was upheld on 2 February.
State-run media reported 14 policemen died in the attack on the police station in August, adding that the perpetrators were heavily armed, including with rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). Policemen were tortured to death and some of the bodies were mutilated, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram said.
In response to Shehata’s Kerdasa rulings, Human Rights Watch heavily lambasted the state of Egypt’s judicial system.
“Mass death sentences are fast losing Egypt’s judiciary whatever reputation for independence it once had,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the NGO’s Middle East and North Africa director. “Instead of weighing the evidence against each person, judges are convicting defendants en masse without regard for fair trial standards,” she said.