Super-Smart Justice System Sentences Toddler to Life in Prison for Murderous Rampage

I can't even imagine what this family has gone through in the past couple of years. A 3-year-old Egyptian boy was sentenced to life in prison last week for a 2014 crime he obviously didn't commit, but they just got reassurance from officials that it was a case of mistaken identity, and the boy could go free. But this news comes after nearly two years of hell for the family, as the toddler's dad was imprisoned for months over the mistake, and was forced on the run for nearly 18 months.

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Yup, some authorities in Egypt decided that Ahmed Mansour Qorany Sharara participated with 115 other people in January 2014 to murder three people and sabotage public and private property during a political demonstration. Ahmed was 16 months old at the time.

Shortly after the alleged crime, police came to arrest Ahmed. Upon discovering that he was a baby, they took his dad, Mansour Qorany Sharara, into custody instead, and kept him locked up for four months. A judge finally released him, but with charges still pending against his son, he went on the run for a year and half to avoid being arrested again.

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After all of that, the tot was still handed a guilty verdict last week, before public outcry caused authorities to rethink their sentence. An aide to the interior minister, General Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, has promised that they recognize that it was a case of mistaken identity, and that neither the little boy nor his father will be jailed (again) for the crime.

The absurdity of so much sorrow for a family happening because a baby was falsely identified as a murderer is just the beginning of the real issue of injustice in Egypt. As criminal justice researcher Karim Ennarah points out, what about about the other cases of mistaken identity where it's not so obvious?

If a toddler being accused of murder can turn a family's life upside down for two years, what happens in other cases where adults are mistaken for perpetrators? Ennarah told CNN, "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 big -- especially if you look at the number of people who are being processed by the criminal justice system at the moment."

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He went as far as to say that the justice system is "on the verge of complete dysfunctionality," and will likely lead to "wide mistrust in the judiciary system."

Probably? How can anyone have faith in a justice system that would convict a 3-year-old boy of murders he supposedly helped commit when he was 16 months old?

It's a big mess, but at least this little guy is safe and sound with his family -- not spending a life sentence in prison.

 

Image via © Florian Boillot/Demotix/Corbis

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