Egypt executes man for throwing 2 to their deaths from roof

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2015 2:57 PM

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt executed a man by hanging on Saturday, the first capital punishment carried out in connection with violence that followed the ouster of the country's Islamist president in 2013.

The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said in a statement that Mahmoud Ramadan was behind the deaths of a young man and a child who were thrown off a rooftop in Alexandria, during large protests demanding Mohammed Morsi's reinstatement after the military removed him from power.

"The famous murderer of children thrown from a rooftop during the violence, intimidation and thuggery carried out by supporters of the former president ... was executed this morning," chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat said later in a separate statement.

He said Ramadan and others convicted of crimes that day used weapons including firearms to sow panic and were responsible for the violence.

Rights group Amnesty International said that the execution came after an unfair trial.

"According the defense team the primary lawyer (in the case) was arrested ahead of the trial and released after it finished," said Amnesty's Egypt researcher Mohamed Elmessiry, adding that the trial did not address police unwillingness to stop the day's violence, investigate the killing of Morsi supporters killed the same day, and that it used video evidence that did not reflect the whole picture.

Another man was also sentenced to death for the killings, which happened two days after Morsi's July 3, 2013 overthrow. Footage repeatedly aired on national television showed one of the men roaming the roof raising a black flag often used by Islamic militants. At least 16 others were also killed in Alexandria that day.

One of those killed was a child, who witnesses including an Associated Press journalist said was stabbed and then thrown off the roof. A young man was hurled to his death and Morsi supporters were seen beating his lifeless body.

The violence set the tone for months to come. Authorities launched a harsh crackdown on Morsi supporters and banned his Muslim Brotherhood group, killing hundreds of protesters and flooding jails with tens of thousands of detainees. The move largely stamped out dissent, although small scale attacks and bombings still take place regularly in Cairo and other cities and a militant insurgency continues in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Maj. Gen. Hany Abdel-Latif said Ramadan's execution was the first involving Morsi supporters implicated in violence.

Also Saturday, a bomb exploded in front of an Emirati bank branch north of the capital, killing a policeman and a civilian and wounding 16, the latest of several attacks by suspected militants seeking to destabilize the government over the last week.

Security and health officials from Gharbiya province said the bomb went off overnight in Mahalla, 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Cairo, near a local Emirates NBD branch. Deputy Health Secretary Mohamed Sharshar said one of the dead was a 25-year old police conscript. The other victims were still receiving treatment.

Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief reporters, said the policeman was passing by coincidence and that two bank employees were among the wounded.

The bank, Dubai's largest, declined to comment and did not make executives available to discuss the matter.

United Arab Emirates is one of several Gulf countries that have sent billions of dollars in aid to back Egypt's current government, led by ex-army chief President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Morsi.

Attacks, mostly targeting the country's security forces since Morsi's ouster, appeared to pick up recently after a relative lull. A midday bomb blast last Monday in downtown Cairo killed one person and wounded 10, while a day earlier a bomb near a police station in the southern city of Aswan killed two civilians and wounded a soldier and four others.

On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo released a security message for U.S. citizens in Egypt, advising them to "review their personal security plans and remain alert to their surroundings at all times."

Extremists have called for attacks against businesses and economic infrastructure ahead of a much-hyped investment conference in Sharm el-Sheikh next week. The government plans to offer projects worth up to $35 billion at the conference.

Emirates NBD CEO Shayne Nelson is one of several executives from Emirati companies scheduled to speak there.

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Associated Press writer Adam Schreck contributed from Dubai.