United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced alarmed at the news that another preliminary mass death sentence has been handed down in Egypt, where more than 680 people were reportedly on trial, a topic he will raise later this week in a meeting with the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nabil Fahmy.
Today's legal decision follows the 24 March conviction of 529 defendants on various charges, including membership of an unlawful organisation (the Muslim Brotherhood), incitement to violence, vandalism, unlawful gathering and the killing of one police officer. All the charges relate to events in August 2013 after the Government of President Mohamed Morsi was ousted.
"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," Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.
The Secretary-General is also conscious of the regional and security implications of such sentences, and stressed that stability in Egypt is essential for the overall stability of the entire North Africa and Middle East region.
Separately, the UN chief is concerned about a court case today banning the activities of the 'April 6 Youth Movement' which mobilized support for the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the unseating of Mr. Morsi last year.
Mr. Ban "was disappointed that the appeals court on 7 April upheld the jailing of three emblematic figures of the 2011 uprising, including two founders of the youth movement," said his spokesperson.
Stressing respect for the independence of the judiciary, Mr. Ban and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had expressed concerns before and after the law regulating protests was promulgated. They warned that it could lead to serious breaches of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.