Your honor, my client didn’t know any better. He was only 1 year old when he committed this awful crime!
It would seem to be an airtight alibi.
Yet, it did little to stop an Egyptian military court from convicting the accused boy, now 3 1/2, and sentencing him to life imprisonment for the murder of three people. The verdict came last week in a mass trial of 107 people alleged to have been members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
After an outcry of anger over the unjust conviction, the military said it was a case of mistaken identity, and that the authorities had actually meant to try a different child, though that too may be a mistake.
Before the military statement, a police spokesman, Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim, said in a television interview that the wanted culprit was the toddler’s uncle, a 51-year-old man who has a similar name.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Abdel-Karim said the reason for the mix-up remained unknown. “I don’t know why there is a contradiction between the statements,” he said. “I’m not the one responsible for communication with the army.”
The case shed a stark light in western society on the dysfunctions that Egyptian judiciary society has been dealing with in the aftermath of Arab Spring.
The army’s announcements about the case of mistaken identity have not included any apology for the undeniable distress it caused to the boy’s family, nor did it include a pledge for more transparent practices and prosecutions.
Egypt maintains that its judiciary are independent from is legislative/executive branches of government, yet human rights groups say Egyptian judges comply with the government’s stated wishes.
Insulting the Egyptian judiciary is a crime in Egypt, and many people have been convicted on these charges in recent years.