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Subject to appeal, 75 to die in Egypt over 2013 uprising

An Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death on Saturday, including top figures of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, for their involvement in a 2013 sit-in, state media reported

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An Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death on Saturday, including top figures of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, for their involvement in a 2013 sit-in, state media reported.

The Cairo Criminal Court referred the sentences to the Grand Mufti — the country’s top theological authority — for his non-binding opinion as is the norm in capital cases. Though non-binding, the formality gives a window of opportunity for a judge to reverse an initial sentence.

The sentences are subject to appeal.

Sentencing for more than 660 others involved in the case was scheduled for Sept. 8, the Al-Ahram news website reported. Those sentences, too, are subject to appeal.

Of the 75 defendants referred to the Mufti, 44 are jailed and 31 are at large. The court normally hands down the maximum sentence for fugitives but a re-retrial is typically held after they are caught.

The case involves a total 739 defendants, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid. The charges range from murder to damaging public property. Neither Badie nor Abu Zeid were sentenced to death in this case.

The 2013 sit-in, in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, supported former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi who was militarily ousted following mass protests against his divisive one-year rule. Morsi hailed from the Brotherhood.

The sit-in was violently dispersed on Aug. 14, 2013. More than 600 people were killed. Months later, Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Egyptian authorities have since launched a severe crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters, arresting many and trying them on terror-related charges.

Read Also: Cote d’Ivoire government faces collapse in coalition row

Egyptian courts have held mass trials and handed down death sentences for hundreds of people, drawing international condemnation.

In 2014, an Egyptian judge sentenced 529 of Morsi’s supporters to death. A retrial was later ordered after several proceedings.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.

International rights groups also denounced the mass trial of the 2013 sit-in. Amnesty International described it in a statement last month as a “grotesque parody of justice” and called on authorities to drop all charges against those arrested for protesting peacefully.

Politics

Weeks after justices protest, Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad resigns

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Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned.

Sources confirmed that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Hint of potential crises in Nigeria’s judiciary played out last week when fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the parlous state of affairs in the court.

The petition is the first-of-its-kind in the 58-year history of the apex court, the justices chronicled the operational challenges that have almost crippled the efficient adjudication of cases at the court.

Arrangements are said to be ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 suspended Justice Tanko’s predecessor Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. It was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule.

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18 years after suspension, Zimbabwe lobbys for readmission into Commonwealth

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Southern African Zimbabwe has continued with lobbying for readmission 18 years after it was thrown out of the body over allegations of human rights abuses.

The country made its latest move to be readmitted at the ongoing Commonwealth summit in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Rwanda Charity Manyeruke, who is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali as an observer alongside other top government officials, told newsmen that the country’s participation at the summit was a “positive development.”

“Zimbabwe is excited to be participating in Commonwealth forums as this presents opportunities to network with the international community taking into account the government of Zimbabwe’s policy of engagement and reengagement,” Ms Manyeruke said.

“The Commonwealth meeting in Kigali has provided opportunities for our Zimbabwean diaspora across the globe, who are participating as panellists, facilitators and as delegates in the forums.

Zimbabwe was first suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year, after international observers condemned disputed presidential election as unfairly tilted toward Robert Mugabe in 2022.

One year after the suspension, Mr Mugabe revealed that he did not accept a Commonwealth decision to prolong Zimbabwe’s suspension from the group until the country mended its ways.

“Accordingly, Zimbabwe has withdrawn its membership from the Commonwealth with immediate effect,” said a government statement.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana said he had held meetings with influential people to discuss the country’s potential readmission.

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