November 09, 2016
Former interim Vice President of Egypt called on to give evidence on allegations of crimes against humanity following Egyptian coup in 2013
Former interim Vice President of Egypt, Dr Mohammed El-Baradei, is called on by an international investigation team to provide evidence into crimes against humanity perpetrated by the military backed government in the 2013 Egyptian coup.
In a public statement, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, provided important insight into events that took place during the military coup in 2013 which saw the overthrow of President Morsi and the massacre of thousands of unarmed protestors.
Dr El-Baradei, who took the position of interim vice president in the immediate aftermath of the coup issued the statement on his Facebook page on 1st November 2016, having kept his silence for three years.
In the statement, Dr El-Baradei described attempts that he made to “work in order to avoid a civil war and to maintain peace” through a road map. He says that he hoped for “a prime minister and government with all the powers to manage a transitional period” and attempted to create a “National Reconciliation Committee.” El-Baradei suggested that these efforts were undermined by the National Defence Council (NDC).
Instead, on 13 August 2013 “matters took a completely different turn after the use of force to break up the rallies” was authorised. This made his role in the NDC untenable.
On 14 August 2014, the military went on to use unprecedented levels of violence to disperse large groups of unarmed peaceful protestors in two camps in Cairo located at the Al Nahda Square and Rabaa al Adawiya Square, killing hundreds of protestors and injuring thousands. According to Human Rights Watch, a minimum of 817 people were killed in Rabaa Square alone. They describe the massacre as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history”.
Dr El-Baradei states that he was “absolutely opposed” to these actions. He strongly disputes any allegation that he consented to the decision to use force to break up the rally at Rabaa Al-Adawiya.
Dr El-Baradei resigned as the interim Vice President on 14 August 2013 citing his opposition to the violence. In his recent statement, Dr El-Baradei complains that following his resignation, he became the victim of “vicious attacks” by the “media”.
The violent crackdown by the military led to condemnation by human rights organisations across the world and the launch of several international criminal investigations, including an investigation which is currently being conducted by the Scotland Yard’s International War Crimes Division in the UK.
The Freedom & Justice Party, which had been led by President Morsi, instructed an international team of lawyers to investigate the allegations of international crimes perpetrated by the military during the 2013 coup in Egypt.
Tayab Ali, Partner at leading London law firm ITN Solicitors, who represents the FJP, said:
I welcome the fact that Dr El-Baradei has finally broken his silence and has stated that the violence perpetrated by the military regime in Egypt was not necessary and that peaceful alternatives were available.
We now have very credible evidence that the decision to use violence was authorised by the National Defence Council and that they chose to ignore credible peaceful alternatives. We consider Dr El-Baradei’s statement to be an important new evidential development and we have ensured that it has been brought to the attention of Scotland Yard.
The allegation made is a serious one. There is ample evidence that the military crackdown amounted to a crime against humanity. I call on Dr El-Baradei to meet with my investigation team and provide evidence detailing precisely what happened within the National Defence Council in the lead up to the massacres.
I have no doubt that Dr El-Baradei will prove to be a key-witness in bringing the perpetrators of these international crimes to justice.
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ISIL-Linked Attacks Kill More Than 70 in Egypt’s Sinai
Militants of Takfiri group, ISIL (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) launched an unprecedented wave of attacks Wednesday on Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula that killed at least 70 people.
F-16 warplanes bombarded the militants as they fought police and soldiers on the streets of the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid after striking military checkpoints in a surprise attack after dawn.
The violence came two days after state prosecutor Hisham Barakat was assassinated in a Cairo car bombing. He was the most senior government official killed in the Takfiri insurgency.
In the capital on Wednesday, police killed senior Muslim Brotherhood member Nasser al-Houfi and eight others during a raid on an apartment, security officials and a member of the Islamist movement said.
The Sinai attacks, in which car bombs were used, were the most brazen in their scope since extremists launched an insurgency in 2013 following the army’s overthrow of Brotherhood’s president Mohammad Mursi.
The victims included several civilians, according to security and medical officials, who said 38 militants were also killed.
“It’s war. The battle is ongoing,” a senior military official told AFP.
“It’s unprecedented, in the number of terrorists involved and the type of weapons they are using.”
Militants took over rooftops and fired rockt-propelled grenades at a police station in Sheikh Zuweid after mining its exits to block reinforcements, a police colonel said.
F-16 jets struck the militants in several locations in the town, officials and a witness said.
“There are gunmen on the streets. They have planted mines everywhere,” said the witness in Sheikh Zuweid.
Explosions were heard and plumes of smoke were seen over Sheikh Zuweid from the neighboring Palestinian Gaza Strip, witnesses there said.
ISIL said its militants surrounded the police station after launching attacks on 15 checkpoints and security installations using suicide car bombers and rockets.
Security and medical officials said ambulances could not get to the scene of the attacks because of heavy fighting in which the military brought in Apache helicopters.
“Ambulances are waiting in front of the hospital. They can’t leave. People are bringing in the casualties,” a health official told AFP.
Troops regularly come under attack in the Sinai, where Takfiris have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since Mursi’s overthrow.
In a statement released online, ISIL said the assault had involved three suicide bombers.
“In a blessed raid enabled by God, the lions of the caliphate have simultaneously attacked more than 15 checkpoints belonging to the apostate army,” the group said.
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Via Syria 360
Smoke rises from burning vehicles at the site of an explosion targeted Egypt’s top prosecutor convoy in Cairo, Egypt, Monday 29 June, 2015 (Photo: Ihab Mourad)
29 Jun 2015
Egypt’s top prosecutor Hisham Barakat died from injuries sustained in a Cairo bomb attack on Monday, the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upswing in violence following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Barakat suffered internal bleeding in the lungs and stomach and fractures to the nose and left shoulder, health ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar told Ahram Online. He had been taken to the operating room at Al-Nozha hospital in Heliopolis, where he succumbed to his injuries hours after the attack.
Nine people, including two drivers and five members of the security forces, were injured when a bomb hit the prosecutor’s convoy near the military academy in the upscale district of Heliopolis, Abdel-Ghaffar said. The blast damaged the fronts of nine houses and destroyed 31 vehicles, four of which were torched, a security source told state news agency MENA.
Egypt’s state TV has reported that a military funeral will take place for Barakat Tuesday noon in El-Moshir Tantawy Mosque in Cairo’s upper class Fifth Settlement.
“Egypt has lost a great judicial figure who has shown dedication to work and commitment to the ethics of the noble judicial profession,” Egypt’s presidency said in a statement, describing the attack as an “act of terrorism”.
The presidency also announced the cancellation of celebrations commemorating the second anniversary of the 30 June events, in which Morsi was ousted from power.
The US embassy in Cairo issued a short statement condemning the assassination of Barakat, describing it as “heinous terrorist attack”.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar right after the attack. El-Sisi urged the ministry to tighten security measures and find the perpetrators.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry mourned the loss of Barakat and renewed calls for the international community to rise up to the level of terrorist threat worldwide in order to eliminate it.
Egypt’s political parties from across the political spectrum, including as the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party and left-of-center Constitution Party condemned the attack and mourning the loss of Barakat.
Also on Monday, the Islamic State-affiliated jihadist group Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis before proclaiming allegiance to IS, released a video that shows their attack on judges in North Sinai’s Al-Arish in May. A title at the bottom of the screen reads “Assassination of five of the tyrant’s judges.”
The IS-affiliated Sinai Province claimed responsibility for a number of large-scale militant attacks across Egypt, including the first assassination attempt against a state official, which former Egypt interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim escaped unscathed in September 2013. The bomb attack on Ibrahim in Cairo left one civilian dead and 21 injured, including six policemen and a child.
Islamist militants, who have primarily targeted security forces since the removal of Morsi over the past two years, have more recently targeted several judges amid the conviction of many Morsi supporters in terror-related cases. In January, a bomb attack targeting judge Khaled Mahgoub, who is representing the general prosecution in Morsi’s jailbreak trial, caused damage to the windows and walls of his house.
In March, a small bomb was left in front of the house of judge Fathi Bayoumi, who investigated the corruption charges against Mubarak-era interior minister Habib El-Adly. The words “a gift for El-Adly’s acquittal” were scribbled on a wall near the attack.
Supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood accuse Egypt’s judiciary of issuing politicised sentences, including against the group’s supreme guide Mohamed Badie and Morsi, who also hails from the Brotherhood. Both are among dozens of the now banned group’s members who have been sentenced to death during the past year.
Sixty-five-year-old Barakat was sworn in as Egypt’s top prosecutor under the rule of interim president Adly Mansour in July 2013 following the resignation of Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud. He was due to keep his position until 2020.
Barakat referred thousands of pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters and Islamists to court on various charges including “belonging to the Brotherhood” as well as “terror-related acts”. Hundreds were sentenced to life in prison and death as a result.
Egypt’s presidency has mourned General-Prosecutor Hisham Barakat who was killed in a bomb attack on his convoy earlier Monday.
“Egypt has lost a great judicial figure that has shown dedication to work and commitment to the ethics of the noble judicial profession,” the presidency said in a statement, describing the attack as an act of terrorism.
It also announced the cancelation of celebrations commemorating the second anniversary of the 30 June events, in which Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power in 2013.
Egypt’s state TV has reported that a military funeral will take place for Barakat Tuesday noon in El-Moshir Tantawy Mosque in upper class Cairo’s Fifth Settlement.
Nine people, including two drivers and five members of the security forces, were also injured when a bomb hit the prosecutor’s convoy near the military academy in Heliopolis.
Barakat’s death marks the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upswing in violence following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
An attack on ex-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim’s convoy failed in 2013.
Islamist militants, who have primarily targeted security forces since the removal of Morsi, have also attacked several judges.
In May, three judges and their driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the North Sinai city of Al-Arish.
The 65-year-old prosecutor Barakat was sworn in as Egypt’s top prosecutor under the rule of interim president Adly Mansour in July 2013 following the resignation of Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud.
A judicial source said that Zakaria Abd El-Aziz Osman has been appointed as Egypt’s acting prosecutor-general, following the assassination of the country’s top prosecutor Hisham Barakat earlier on Monday, the Ahram Arabic news website has reported.
Abd El-Aziz, who was a judge at the Cairo Court of Appeal, had served as assistant prosecutor-general since April.
He will now assume the duties of the prosecutor-general until the appointment of a new prosecutor-general.
Islamic State-affiliated jihadists Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, have released a video showing their attack on a microbus in North Sinai’s Al-Arish, which killed three judges and the driver on 16 May.
The video shows a vehicle following a microbus, then approaching it from its left, after which gunshots are fired at the microbus, shattering its windows and penetrating its door.
A title at the bottom of the screen reads “Assassination of five of the tyrant’s judges.”
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group on 30 June 2014, after which it changed its name to Sinai Province.
The Salafist jihadist group has carried out a number of attacks against security forces, inside and outside Sinai, and was designated a terrorist group by Egypt, the UAE, the UK and the United States.
On Monday, an explosion targeting the convoy of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat left him injured together with five other security members and one civilian. Barakat is being treated at Al-Nozha hospital in Heliopolis.
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An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ousted president Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 other defendants to death for their role in a 2011 mass prison break.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was ousted by the military in July 2013 after days of street protests by Egyptians demanding that he be removed because of his divisive rule. His overthrow triggered a government crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement in which hundreds of people have died and thousands have been imprisoned.
Last month, Morsi, along with 14 other defendants, was sentenced to 20 years in maximum security prison and five years of parole over the killing of demonstrators outside his palace in 2012.
Al Jazeera reports that many of those sentenced on Saturday were tried in absentia, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Islamic scholar based in Qatar.
According to the Associated Press, “Supporters of Morsi and his now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood chanted ‘down, down with military rule’ as the verdict was announced in the courtroom, a converted lecture hall in the national police academy in an eastern Cairo suburb.”
All along, rights groups including Amnesty International have criticized the trials as being “grossly unfair” and indicative of “the deplorable state of the country’s criminal justice system.”
Following Saturday’s announcement, Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, declared: “Condemning Mohamed Morsi to death after more grossly unfair trials shows a complete disregard for human rights. His trials were undermined even before he set foot in the courtroom. The fact that he was held for months incommunicado without judicial oversight and that he didn’t have a lawyer to represent him during the investigations makes these trials nothing but a charade based on null and void procedures.”
Boumedouha added: “The death penalty has become the favourite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition. Most of those sentenced to death by courts since July 2013 have been Morsi supporters. The deal seems to be: Support Morsi and get sentenced to death or to years behind bars. Instead, Egypt must ensure the independence and impartiality of the justice system and bring to justice all those responsible for gross human rights violations.”
Calling on the international community to step in and stop the execution, Amr Darrag, co-founder of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood, told Reuters in Istanbul: “This is a political verdict and represents a murder crime that is about to be committed.”
As per Egyptian law, the case now goes to the country’s top Muslim theologian, or mufti, for his non-binding opinion—a mandatory procedure before a criminal court can formally hand down the death sentence. If Morsi and the other defendants are sentenced to death when the court hands down its final verdict on June 2, they will be able to appeal their death sentences before Egypt’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.
If you’re among the conspirators who ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, it seems you initiate a flurry of meetings and phone calls and soon reach a solution that relies on forgery and, to make sure a replacement jail looks authentic, construction of a “torture area” inside it.
“Forgery, we do all the time,” brags one member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. “We are very good at it.” He might have said the same about torture.
What neither he nor his colleagues realized, however, is that their words were secretly recorded, and eventually tapes of these alleged conversations would be released to the outside world.
The list of plotters included Deputy Defense Minister Mamdouh Shaheen and Gen. Abbas Kamel, the chief of staff to Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the top military commander regarded as the mastermind behind the coup, who is now president of Egypt.
Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which propelled him to victory in the national elections that were forced by the Arab Spring uprising of 2011, was found guilty last month of ordering the arrest and torture of protestors during the unrest that preceded the coup. An Egyptian court sentenced the former president to 20 years in prison; his lawyers pledged an appeal.
The authenticity of the secret tapes has been verified forensically at the request of Morsi’s lawyers by J. P. French Associates, a British company that specializes in voice analysis, the Guardian newspaper has reported. The Egyptian government denies the finding, denouncing the tapes as “fabrications.”
If genuine, the tapes raise embarrassing questions for U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular. Besides rigging the legal case against Morsi, the tapes describe the Egyptian military’s role in fomenting the street protests that el-Sisi used to justify Morsi’s removal—a revelation that undercuts the military’s assertion that it took power as part of a popular “revolution,” not a coup.
U.S. law prohibits supplying advanced military equipment to a government that seized power in a coup.
Obama froze U.S. military aid to Egypt immediately after Morsi’s overthrow, but recently reversed course. In a March 31 telephone call, the president informed el-Sisi that the U.S. would be sending $47 million worth of F-16 fighter jets, Harpoon missiles, and other weaponry to Egypt, fortifying Egypt’s role as the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, behind Israel. Kerry heaped fulsome praise on el-Sisi during a March 13 visit to Egypt, asserting that the new Egyptian president “deserves enormous credit for working to improve the basic business climate in Egypt.”
The Daily Beast asked National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan if the Obama administration had doubts about the authenticity of the tapes and, if not, how it justified resuming military aid to perpetrators of an apparent military coup. She referred questions about the tapes to the State Department, which did not respond.
As for the aid resumption, Meehan cited a statement the White House released after Obama’s phone call to el-Sisi. In the statement, Obama said the aid will leave the two countries “better positioned to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region” even as “he reiterated U.S. concerns about Egypt’s continued imprisonment of non-violent activists and mass trials.”
As revealed on the tapes, translated for The Daily Beast by an Egyptian democracy activist who requested anonymity for fear of government reprisals, the problem posed by Morsi’s imprisonment was a legal one.
Shaheen, the deputy defense minister, tells the minister of the Interior, Mohamed Ibrahim, that the government prosecutor in the case is worried. In the first hours and days after the coup and his arrest, Morsi’s whereabouts were kept secret. Now it seems he was being detained in a military rather than a civilian jail. This was illegal and, the prosecutor feared, could invalidate the entire case against Morsi.
(As we have seen in the seemingly endless trials of Hosni Mubarak, the president ousted in 2011, the wheels of justice in Egypt grind exceedingly slow in an effort to appear to conform to the rule of law. In the latest turn, on Saturday, Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison.)
Shaheen and Ibrahim, along with Gen. Kamel, allegedly decided to refashion the jail in question, turning it from a military into a civilian one in case the court decided to inspect it.
The jail was located on Navy property, so it needed a new access road and surrounding wall to make it look like a separate facility. To buttress the deception, the officials agreed to bring in old mattresses and newspapers from when Morsi supposedly was imprisoned there.
As veteran bureaucrats, the officials recognized they also had to create a paper trail of other civilians who supposedly were imprisoned there. Kamel, apparently passing along direct orders from el-Sisi, tells the chief of the navy, Adm. Osama el-Guindy, “I was in his office, and he told me to tell you, whatever it costs, whatever it costs, it has to be done right.”
To make this refashioned “civilian jail” truly realistic, the military men further decide that it must have a torture room. Kamel tells Shaheen, “We’ll have, like, an area for beating. If someone were to inspect, it would look like this was a torture area, and some people with marks on their feet, and so on….” The general concludes this remark with a low chuckle as his colleagues agree.
Even more damaging from the standpoint of U.S. law, a separate tape suggests that the Egyptian military helped to bankroll the mass unrest it used to justify ousting Morsi.
According to the Guardian’s translation, Kamel is heard in June 2013—the month leading up to the coup—authorizing withdrawal of a large sum of money for the army’s use from the bank account of Tamarod, the supposedly independent grassroots group that was organizing protests against president Morsi.
The government of the United Arab Emirates had provided the money, indicating further high-level collusion. “Sir,” Kamel tells an aide to el-Sisi, who was then chief of the Egyptian military, “we will need 200 [thousand Egyptian pounds] tomorrow from Tamarod’s account, you know, the part from the UAE, which they transferred.”
Although the secret tapes have gone unremarked in Washington, their existence is well known elsewhere, including in Egypt. The tapes began to be released last November by a TV channel based in Turkey, Mekameleen. The channel’s Islamist sympathies were quickly seized upon by el-Sisi and his supporters as reason enough to discredit the tapes.
But according to a comprehensive account by Guardian reporter Patrick Kingsley, the J. P. French Associates firm, which frequently offers expert testimony in British courtrooms, concluded not only that the tapes were genuine but that the voices they contain are indeed those of senior security officials, and no misleading editing or other falsifications were detected.
If the tapes are in fact genuine, a host of intriguing questions pose themselves. Just who managed to tape these unguarded, incriminating conversations inside the office of one of president el-Sisi’s closest advisers? What additional revelations might be forthcoming from tapes yet to be released? And when, if ever, will the Washington press corps demand answers from the Obama administration about its apparent endorsement of a regime whose highest officials literally joke about torture and brag about forgery?
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