An Egyptian toddler, sentenced to life in prison for allegedly killing three individuals – when he was still in diapers – has been reunited with his family after an outrageous case of mistaken identity. Egyptian officials have assured the family that neither the boy, nor his father – who has been on the run for a year and a half after the surreal verdict was handed down by a military court – will be arrested again.
Reports CNN on Feb. 24: “The boy’s father, Mansour Qorany Sharara, has returned to the family home in the southern Egyptian province of Fayyoum after nearly 18 months on the run. He had been avoiding authorities who had previously detained him when they came to arrest his young son.”
The three-year-old suspect, identified as Ahmed Mansour Qorany Sharara, was included in collective charges brought against 115 demonstrators who were indicted for the 2014 destruction of public property, sedition against the government and the mob murders of three individuals. Protestors were rioting over ousted President Mohamed Morsy. Ahmed was 16 months of age at the time.
Despite the obvious blunder, when Egyptian police arrived to arrest the boy, they instead forcibly took Mansour into custody and held him in a detention cell for over four months. After a judge released him, authorities were still investigating Mansour and his family – forcing him to flee out of fear of reprisal.
“How could people trust justice if they see this?” asked TV presenter Wael El-ebrashy while interviewing Mansour, according to CNN. “Hey, you terrorist, did you kill four people?” the host sarcastically asked the boy. A spokesperson for the Egyptian military police said the person they wanted was actually a 16-year-old with the same name as Ahmed’s.
Karim Ennarah, a criminal justice researcher, said the aberration is evidence of a highly dysfunctional justice system in Egypt.
“The main problem with that is that there are probably other cases that are not as striking where such mistakes are not corrected because you are not talking about a 2-year-old child, and the outcry is not as bi – especially if you look at the number of people who are being processed by the criminal justice system at the moment,” Ennarah said. “I would go as far as saying it is disintegrating, the justice system. It’s on the verge of complete dysfunctionality.”
The family has now hired a team of lawyers. According to the Human Rights Watch, a spokesperson for the family said “police went to the family’s home in 2014 to arrest [the boy] in connection with a protest… When Mansour’s father, Mansour Qurni Ahmed Ali, told them that the person they wanted was his young son, they did not believe him, so he presented his son, along with a birth certificate viewed by Human Rights Watch. The police arrested the father instead and held him for four months.”
Per NPR News, which carried video of the father and son after their ordeal, Egypt’s military court has been “widely criticized by rights groups for speedy trials and minimal legal protections.”