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Letter to President Mubarak on the Death Sentence of the Convicted Taba Bombers

June 8, 2007

We write to you with regard to the impending execution of Yunis Muhammad Mahmud `Alyan, Osama Muhammad `Abd al-Ghani al Nakhlawi, and Muhammad Jayiz Sabbah Husain.

Dear President Mubarak:

We write to you with regard to the impending execution of Yunis Muhammad Mahmud `Alyan, Osama Muhammad `Abd al-Ghani al Nakhlawi, and Muhammad Jayiz Sabbah Husain. On November 30, 2006, a State Security Emergency Court in Isma`iliyya convicted the three men in connection with the October 7, 2004 bombings in and around Taba. The accused do not have the right to appeal the verdicts and sentences of this court. Only the President of the Republic can order a retrial or alter the sentences. We understand that legal advisers in your office have recommended that you ratify the death sentences against these men, and that their execution may be imminent.

Your Excellency, Human Rights Watch recognizes the responsibility of the government to apprehend and bring to justice persons suspected of responsibility for serious crimes, and we certainly agree that the Taba attacks were horrific and inexcusable assaults that killed and severely injured scores of innocent people.

Human Rights Watch, however, opposes capital punishment in all circumstances because of its cruel and inhumane nature. Respect for the inherent dignity of all human beings cannot be reconciled with this form of punishment, which is unique in its barbarity and finality. The intrinsic fallibility of all criminal justice systems, we believe, assures that a state may execute innocent persons even when full due process of law is respected.

While the death penalty has not been abolished as a matter of international law, there is consensus that it be imposed only in cases where due process has been scrupulously applied. Given the seriousness of the crimes for which these men stand accused, and the charges against them, the government should have made every possible effort to ensure that the judicial proceedings them met international fair trial standards.

Regrettably, as we pointed out at the conclusion of the court sessions, the trials of these three men did not meet these standards. Among the gravest flaws in those proceedings were serious allegations of torture, coerced confessions, prolonged incommunicado detention, and lack of consultation with legal counsel. A lawyer who observed the trials on behalf of Human Rights Watch also noted numerous other irregularities. The court, for example, was not troubled that Yunis Muhammad confessed, following what he alleges was serious torture at the hands of State Security officers, to having used a different kind of bomb in a different place and using a different car than crime scene investigators had concluded had been used and placed in the Taba attacks.

Your Excellency, we urge you in the strongest terms to use the powers vested in your office to halt any further steps to carry out these death sentences, and to order re-trials of these three individuals before a court of law whose proceedings meet international fair trial standards.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Sarah Leah Whitson
Executive director

cc: His Excellency Nabil Fahmy, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt

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