UN must intervene to help American facing death sentence in Egypt
April 7, 2015
Lawyers for an American man facing a death sentence in Egypt, who has been on hunger strike for over 400 days, have called on the UN to take urgent action over his case.
28 year old Mohamed Soltan, from Michigan, was translating for an English-language journalist at a 2013 pro-democracy protest in Cairo when he was shot in the arm by Egyptian Government forces. He has been on hunger strike for over 400 days, at one point falling into a coma as a result. Mohamed is on trial alongside more than 45 other people and due to be sentenced on April 11th. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.
The appeal for an urgent action by the UN, submitted today by international human rights charity Reprieve which is assisting Mohamed, argues that any conviction would be illegal given Mohamed’s torture and the multiple international law violations during his trial.
Upon arrest and during interrogation, Mohamed was denied access to a lawyer. He was tortured by security services – including being beaten with metal rods and intentional blows to his gunshot wound causing metal nails in his arm to dislodge. A fellow inmate had to perform ad hoc surgery on his gunshot wound using a razor blade to prevent permanent damage.
Government forces also subjected Mohamed and other prisoners to sexual humiliation, with forced nudity followed by beatings with clubs and chains. During more than a year in jail, Mohamed has only been allowed one medical visit.
Mohamed was arrested without a warrant in August 2013 and detained for 5 months without any charges being brought against him. One of the charges Mohamed faces is membership of the Muslim Brotherhood – which he has always denied. Membership of the party did not become a crime in Egypt until September 2013 – three months after Mohammed was detained. It is illegal under international law for a person to be charged with an offence that was not a crime at the time they were arrested.
Maya Foa, Director of the Death Penalty Team at Reprieve, said: “Everything about Mohamed’s arrest and trial is a flagrant violation of multiple international laws, and his treatment at the hands of the Egyptian authorities has been as brutal as anyone could imagine. It is vital that the UN issues an urgent action ahead of Mohamed’s sentencing to show that the international community will not stand idly by while pro-democracy supporters like Mohamed are thrown to the dogs. Mohamed must be released from jail and returned home to his family in the US.”