Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Egypt’s latest Presidential Pardon: The Good , the bad and the incomprehensible "Updated"

Last Wednesday, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi pardoned 332 individuals, mostly from youth who had been imprisoned in protest-related cases.
The 332 individuals were chosen by the Presidential pardon committee which was formed in October 2016 to review the cases of youth imprisoned in politically related trials as well as humanitarian cases such as health problems and so on.
That’s the fourth pardon of its kind since that committee headed by political figure Osama Ghazali Harb started to work in 2016. According to statements to press by its members, the committee started to work on the fourth list in September 2017.
During then, its member Karim El-Sakka who spoke with Ahram Online that the committee was adopting selection criteria that include “ political prisoners, but exclude those involved in violence or terrorism”.
In November 2017, the committee member and Pro-regime MP Tarek El-Kholy stated to Al-Masry Al-Youm Daily stated that there was a delay in releasing the 4th Presidential pardon list because the committee was examining each case individually.
He also added that the list would be delivered to the presidency after being revised by “the concerned authorities”.
Last Wednesday, a source in the Prisons authority following the Ministry of interior told Ahram Arabic Gate that “the authority” did not interfere in the work of the committee.
According to current constitution’s article No.155, the president can issue pardon decrees for prisoners who have been handed final court rulings that cannot be appealed after consulting with the Cabinet.
Yet the Egyptian president cannot pardon those convicted in illegal weapons possession and trafficking as well drug trafficking according to the Criminal Code of Egypt if I understood correctly.
This introduction above is important for what is coming next.
On Thursday, the Presidential Pardon was officially issued in the Egyptian State Gazette with the names of the pardoned inmates.
Now there is something good about this pardon as well something bad. There is something incomprehensible as well.
The good , the bad and the incomprehensible

The good

First of all and most importantly that 332 people are back free to their families after years of languishing in prison. It is a good thing that 332 returned to their homes in Ramadan and hopefully, they will attempt to restore their life and before it humanity.
There are political activists and political partisan figures in that pardon.

Among those also pardoned by President El-Sisi on Wednesday are Islam Marei, a leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), who was serving a three-year sentence on financing terrorism charges, and Andrew Nassef, a member of the leftist under-construction Bread and Freedom Party, who was serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism.
Islam Marei of ESDP
Islam Marei of ESDP
Ironically, almost all newspapers and news websites as well TV channels reported that Marei and Nassef were members of Constitution Party according to the Pardon’s Press release despite it is well known that they are from two different parties.
This little mistake shows actually, unfortunately, are current true opposition political parties are belittled.
Anyhow student activist Ahmed Bedawai was also pardoned.
The head of the Strong Egypt Party’s students’ chapter at Al-Azhar University’s faculty of
Ahmed Etiway
Ahmed Etiway
engineering was sentenced to five years in prison on a number of charges, including illegal protesting in the trial known in the media as the “Al-Fatah Mosque clashes.”
According to the official gazette, 104 other individuals imprisoned in the same case were also pardoned on Wednesday.
Aside from Bedawai and the 102 others in the list, there is an Egyptian-American called Ahmed Etiwy whose name made it to the list.
The 27-years-old was sentenced in September 2017 to 5 years in jail. I do not know if there are still more Egyptian-America citizens behind bars
It is worth to mention that Egyptian-Irish Ibrahim Halwa was imprisoned in the same case before he was acquitted from all charges in October 2017. The Irish government and parliament had demanded his release since 2013.
The Al-Fatah Mosque case goes back to the August 2013 clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi following the dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa and Nahda sits-in.

The Bad

Some political commentators including politicians from the ESDP are saying the pardon was a nice good wiling gesture towards political parties, especially President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi spoke about the importance of political partisan life in the country in some Youth conference on the same day of the pardon.
There is one problem concerning that belief, that pardon comes at the same time the country is witnessing another crackdown against prominent political activists, politicians as well as social activists.
Ahmed Bedawai is released but the founder and the leader of his party “Strong Egypt” Abdel Moneim Abu El-Fotouh is detained pending investigations.
Leftist Andrew Nassef is released but the prominent leftist lawyer and member of Revolutionary socialists Haitham  Mohamadeen is detained pending investigation.
Liberal Islam Marei is released but prominent liberal political activist Shady El-Ghazali Harb, whose uncle heads the presidential pardon is detained pending investigation.
Ahmed Etwi is released but satirical vlogger Shady Abu Zeid is detained pending investigations of joining a banned organization and spreading false news while journalist Ismail Alexandrani is sentenced ten years in prison in a military trial for spreading false news.
Early Wednesday, the prominent Egyptian blogger and journalist Wael Abbas, who is known for work on documenting police brutality during Mubarak's era has been detained from his house.
Shady Abu Zeid
Shady Abu Zeid
The political life in Egypt won’t be revived or taken seriously inside the country or even outside “despite it does not matter as long as the business is done uninterruptedly” if you continue to have cartoonish parties.
That was translated very well in a low turnout in the last Parliamentary elections in 2016 and in the Presidential elections in March 2018.

The incomprehensible

The news began to surface on Wednesday through Facebook posts, then last Thursday through the Egyptian official gazette: Mubarak era’s gangster and leading thug figure Sabry Nakhnoukh was granted a presidential pardon !!
Selfies and photos showing Nakhnouk with his friends and family at his villa in Alexandria went viral online on Thursday.
Born in 1963, Sabry Nakhnoukh became a household name when he admitted to facilitating large-scale vote rigging in favor of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in 2011.
In May 2013, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison on a number of charges, including illegal possession of arms and thuggery.
Nakhnoukh after his release
mashallah, his health is better in prison !!
Since his arrest, Nakhnoukh has maintained that the charges were trumped up by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Islamist group, which is currently banned and listed by the Egyptian government as a terrorist group, has accused Nakhnoukh of working with the Mubarak regime to kill protesters during the 25 January Revolution.
Since his arrest and sentence, the lord of thuggery in Egypt fought one hell of a constitutional and legal battle.
In August 2012, Nakhnoukh was arrested from his villa in Alexandria’s upscale King Mariott district for unlicensed possession of weapons and illegal ownership of predatory animals, including tigers and lions which he kept in the garden of his home.
In September 2012, he was referred to criminal court for illegal weapons possession, drug abuse and other charges and was sentenced to 28 years in jail in May 2013.
In November 2014, Egypt's cassation court upheld the sentence.
But in February 2016, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court struck down Law No. 6 of 2012 under which Nakhnoukh was sentenced.
Nakhnoukh's lawyers then appealed against the cassation court's 2014 verdict before the Supreme Constitutional Court.

In April 2018, the prosecutor general referred Nakhnoukh's case once again to Alexandria’s criminal court. Last Wednesday, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi pardoned him.

With that pardon, all the legal procedures taken against Nakhnoukh are considered void. Though he will be free from jail, the pardon also does not expunge the record of his conviction.
Now the million dollars question: How did a man like that find his way to the presidential pardon list?
It is already an insult to the presidency and the Presidential pardon committee list.
Nakhnoukh’s lawyer Gameel Asaad does not provide a logic legal explanation on why his client is included in that pardon.
The veteran famous lawyer claims that Sabry Nakhnoukh served half his prison term so he could be pardoned !!
Nakhnoukh was sentenced to 28 years in jail already !!

Updated :

Magdy TabikhaIt turned out that Nakhnoukh is not the only one who has been granted a presidential pardon who is not involved in protesting-related-case.
According to the list published in the official gazette, businessman and millionaire Magdy Tabikha who had been convicted of murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison was also pardoned.

Tabikha’s conviction was upheld by the court of cassation in December 2017. In early May, the Cassation court published its reasoning for that verdict. According to the court’s reasoning, Tabikha shot down and killed a young man because the young man’s car broke down outside his palace !!

Eyewitnesses and evidence collected by the police proved that Tabhikha was not defending himself as he claimed. Tabikha is not from the well-known names of Mubarak’s businessmen era but he is said to be a close friend to Alaa Hosni Mubarak.
His name also appeared in corruption-related-reports that surfaced in 2011.

Again this is not the first pardon issued of its kind involving a murder case or even a big Mubarak era Tycoon. In June 2017, Construction tycoon Hisham Talaat Mustafa was pardoned.
He was convicted of hiring a hitman to kill Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim in Dubai if you remember in 2008.
The NDP member was originally sentenced to death in May 2009 but got 15 years only in a retrial. Some claimed that Mostafa got the pardon due to health problem but he seemed fine to me when he showed up in August 2017 with Prince Walid Ibn Talaal while visiting the Four Seasons resort in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Hisham Talaat is back to public life in Egypt currently and soon he will launch his next big project at the new administrative capital for which his company acquired 500 fedans in April 2017. 

There has been a complete radio silence from the presidential pardon committee as well presidency about Nakhnoukh or Tabikha

I do not comprehend honestly how Nakhnoukh or Tabikha are free men.
Interestingly, the famous thug was arrested in the time of former minister of interior Ahmed Gamal El-Din. Gamal El-Din is currently serving as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi security’s adviser.

Some concerned citizens fear what a free man like Sabry Nakhnouh will do.
Personally, I believe men like Nakhnoukh are more dangerous to Egypt’s stability and national security than all Egyptian political activists.
This is the ugliest thing about that Presidential pardon.

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