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DIPLOMACY > Turkey: Death sentences in Egypt unacceptable, jeopardize country’s future

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Relatives and families of members of Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi react after hearing the sentence, in front of the court in Minya, April 28. REUTERS Photo

Relatives and families of members of Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi react after hearing the sentence, in front of the court in Minya, April 28. REUTERS Photo

Turkey’s leaders have condemned, in unison, the mass death penalty sentences delivered in Egypt for supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The leaders have called the sentencing unacceptable, while also urging both the United States and European Union member countries to strongly voice their objections against the sentences.

Germany’s President Joachim Gauck, who was on an official visit to Turkey, also expressed deep concern and voiced willingness to get in touch with the Egyptian administration to form a decent judicial system, instead of today’s oppressive system.

“It is not possible to accept these kinds of unbelievable sentences that are delivered by political courts at a time when democracy is suspended,” Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül said on April 28 at a joint press conference with Gauck. “I actually consider these types of mass sentences a very big malice to Egypt’s future,” Gül said.

For his part, Gauck said it was not understandable for an interim government to apply oppressive judicial measures. “Particularly in transition times, an understanding of the judiciary, which is superior to the former, should be built. That’s why, in the shortest time, also with Mr. Gül’s diplomatic opportunities, and we, as Europeans, should get in touch with the current administration and launch an initiative for the transition to a more balanced judiciary,” Gauck said in remarks translated from German to Turkish through an interpreter.

Earlier in the day, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç had addressed the international community, calling for a strongly voiced objection to what has been going on in Egypt.

“I believe Turkey has shown the required reaction, but I believe all countries, primarily the U.S. and EU member countries, should also object the death penalties,” Arınç said on April 28, the day when an Egyptian judge sentenced more than 680 alleged supporters of the country’s ousted Islamist president to death over acts of violence and the murder of policemen in the latest mass trial in Egypt that included the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader.

“People’s being sentenced to death and the fact that they are about to be executed is not only a disgrace for Egypt. It is very grave that there are countries which remain silent about this, which don’t object to this action and don’t accuse the administration over these sentences,” Arınç said, while expressing hope the Egyptian authorities will renounce this “grave wrongdoing.”
Turkey’s parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek echoed Arınç. Calling the death penalty sentences “unacceptable,” Çiçek said he hoped the international community’s reaction will come before it is too late.

Earlier, an Egyptian court in Cairo sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 682 other of Morsi’s supporters to death after two brief sessions the defense partly boycotted.
The same court also ruled to reverse 492 of the 529 death sentences it passed in March, committing most of those to life in prison.

The court presided over by judge Said Youssef Sabry had sparked international outcry with its initial sentencing last month, which came amid an extensive crackdown on Morsi’s supporters. Under Egyptian law, death sentences are referred to the top Islamic scholar for an advisory opinion before being ratified.

Relations between Cairo and Ankara have deteriorated since July last year when the Egyptian military toppled Morsi following enormous protests against his one-year rule.

The Turkish government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been a staunch backer of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood organization.

At least 1,000 people have been sentenced since December, all in groups of 10 or more. Jail terms have ranged from six months to life, as well as the death penalty.

Amnesty International says more than 1,400 people have been killed in the police crackdown since the army overthrew Morsi, Egypt’s first elected and civilian leader.

April/28/2014

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