A death sentence commuted in Egypt, but justice denied

June 10, 2019

Image of Ahmed Saddouma

Egypt’s highest court has recognised that Ahmed Saddouma, sentenced to death in a mass trial in 2018, was a child at the time of his alleged offences. His sentence has accordingly been commuted to 15 years imprisonment – the harshest possible punishment for minors under Egyptian law.

The ruling follows a concerted campaign, in Egypt and the UK, to get courts to recognise Ahmed’s age.

While this is obviously welcome, and a huge relief for Ahmed and his family, it is not justice. Ahmed was abducted from his home at dawn, held in incommunicado detention for almost three months, tortured into making a false confession and convicted alongside 29 adult co-defendants in a mass trial. He was convicted of the attempted murder of a judge – a bombing that occurred three weeks after he was arrested. He should not be in prison at all.

Reprieve’s Middle East and North Africa team lead Sherif Azer said: “Justice is simply not possible in a mass trial – a fact that this ruling recognises. Yet Egypt’s courts continue to sentence large groups of people to death, on manufactured terrorism charges. Ahmed Saddouma is a victim of this unjust system, and should be pardoned and released, so he can go home to his family.”