by Naser Al-Azazy
Sinai Bedouins met with security officials on Saturday to discuss sentences handed down to Sinai residents in absentia under the Mubarak regime. The group met in a village near the Al-Halal mountains, North Sinai.
The conference was organised by the Popular Commission to Defend the People of Sinai and was attended by Sinai residents sentenced in absentia and their families. One Sinai resident who’d been sentenced in absentia, Salama Fayad, said that he was asked to cooperate with state security and to provide them with information on Islamist groups in Sinai and that when he refused, he was tried on trumped up charges and sentenced to death.
Salam said he demands President Mohamed Morsy grants him, and everyone else who was sentenced in absentia, pardon.
Another Sinai resident, whose two sons had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia, said he wants retrials for his children.
A’ayad Al-Shanoob, who had been sentenced to six years in prison said dropping these sentences would restore security in Sinai and create development.
Sai’d Al-Qassas, head of the Movement of Sinai’s Revolutionaries and one of the conference’s organisers said the demands of the people of Sinai are the dropping of these sentences, release of the prisoners and reform of the judiciary. In addition, he said that the media has a role, to objectively convey the message of the people. Al-Qassas said that if these demands are met, everyone vows there will be stability and security in Sinai.
Towards, the end of the conference, Major General Abdel-Raouf Al-E’rqy, director of public security and assistant director of security showed up and said that the Ministry of Interior is willing to hold dialogue which includes those sentenced in absentia, in order to find a legal solution to their problem. He added that he will be holding meetings with lawyers of the defendants in order to figure out the best possible way to drop the sentences.