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Egyptian dissidents in İstanbul abruptly cancel planned criminal complaint against el-Sisi

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Plans by Egyptian dissidents in Turkey to file a criminal complaint against visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi were abruptly dropped at the last minute, sparking speculation that Turkish government pressure may be behind the sudden cancellation, the Serbestiyet news website reported on Wednesday.

The dissidents, largely comprising victims and witnesses of alleged human rights abuses committed during and after the 2013 military coup in Egypt, had announced their intention to demand the arrest and trial of President el-Sisi during his first visit to Turkey. Yet reporters arriving at the Istanbul Courthouse on July 21 for the submission of the complaint and subsequent press conference found the event had been called off without explanation.

President el-Sisi rose to power in Egypt after leading a military coup against the elected Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013. His tenure has been marred by accusations of mass killings, extrajudicial executions, assassinations, arbitrary detentions, torture and unjust trials, which critics claim constitute crimes against humanity.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had initially shown strong opposition to el-Sisi’s regime, with comments indicating an inability to associate with an oppressive government. Recently, however, Erdoğan’s stance towards Egypt has shown signs of thawing. This unexpected change was underscored by a public handshake with el-Sisi during the World Cup in Qatar last year and the recent exchange of ambassadors between Turkey and Egypt.

This policy shift has stirred anxiety among Egyptian dissidents in Turkey who have been seeking justice for the alleged crimes. They planned to use the principle of universal jurisdiction to hold al-Sisi and his associates accountable for their actions during the coup and in the ensuing years.

When questioned by Serbestiyet about the possibility of government pressure leading to the cancellation of the complaint, the dissidents’ representative, human rights advocate Gülden Sönmez, said the decision was made by her clients and declined to comment further.

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