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Egypt (Murders)

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he is making to the Egyptian Government on bringing the murderers of Christians and a Muslim in El-Kosheh to justice; and if he will make a statement. [113873]

We were deeply concerned by the sectarian violence in El-Kosheh in 2000, which left 20 Christians and one Muslim dead. In the resulting trial, four men were convicted (out of 96 accused), all for the murder of the Muslim and public order offences. After an appeal, a re-trial began in May 2002. The verdict was issued on 27 February 2003. Two of the original convictions were upheld and harsher sentences passed, but the other two were acquitted, along with the 92 acquitted at the first trial.On 13 March 2003, the Prosecutor-General appealed again. This is an indication that the Egyptian legal authorities recognise that justice has not been done and are taking steps to attempt to rectify the injustice. We will continue to follow developments closely.