01/20/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

Death penalty always unjust, even for Mubarak, Catholic Church says

Fr Rafik Greiche speaks about the death penalty request for Mubarak. According to the prosecution, he is responsible for the death of 850 people, gunned down during protests in January 2011. For days, hundreds of people have been demonstrating in Cairo, calling for the former strongman to be hanged.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – “The Egyptian Catholic Church, together with all other Christian denominations, is against the death penalty for any individual,” said Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church. He spoke to AsiaNews about the death penalty requested for former President Hosni Mubarak whose trial resumed last Monday after a two-week break.

“No one has the right to take the life of another man even if he is guilty of terrible crimes. Only God can do that,” Fr Greiche said. “Sadly, the death penalty is a normal thing for the Muslim mindset. Egyptian law calls for hanging in the most serious crimes.”

Still, there is no conviction yet for Egypt’s former strongman and it is too early to judge the situation.

For days, hundreds of people have been demonstrating in front of the Cairo courthouse where Mubarak is on trial, holding nooses and handcuffs, shouting slogans in favour of the death penalty for the former president who is charged with ordering a crackdown on protests in January 2011.

The crowd’s anger was further stoked when Farid al-Deeb, Mubarak’s defence lawyer, said in court that there is no evidence to show that he ordered security forces to open fire on protesters. According to al-Deeb, Mubarak had already handed over power to the military before the 28 January massacre in accordance with Law 183 of 1952. Only military leaders could give the order to fire, not the president.

For victims’ families, statements like this chip away at their hope for justice.

Yesterday, members of the Nour (Salafist) party urged relatives of the 850 people who died in the protest violence to demand the application of Sharia, which in this case calls for a “blood price” to be paid by the guilty party’s family.

Today, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Egyptian judges not to impose the death penalty. Interviewed by a British newspaper, he said that the United Nations voted in favour of resolution calling on member states to stop executions and new death penalty sentences. (S.C.)
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