Egypt Is Sorry It Sentenced A Little Boy To Life In Prison

It's hard to keep track when you condemn 116 people at once.

An Egyptian court sentenced a very young child to life in prison last week after finding him guilty of multiple counts of murder.

Ahmed Mansour Qurani Sharara, who was not in court, was convicted along with 115 other individuals allegedly involved in a violent January 2014 protest in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. 

Various media reports put Ahmed's current age at 3 or 4 years old.

Authorities, at least some of them, knew how young he was. Police had showed up to arrest Ahmed in early 2014, CNN reported, only to discover that he was still a baby. So they detained his father, Mansour Qurani Sharara, instead.

Even so, two years later, the little boy was convicted in absentia of four counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and additional counts of vandalizing government property.

The child's father, meanwhile, was held for four months before being released and going on the run. After his son's conviction, Sharara appeared in an emotional televised interview on Saturday to say he feared for his child's safety. In his arms he cradled Ahmed.

Egyptian authorities have since admitted they made an error and promised that the boy and his father would not be detained, CNN reports. In a Facebook post in Arabic on Sunday, an Egyptian military spokesman said Ahmed's conviction was actually intended for a 16-year-old with the same name.

But the fact that a tiny child would even be accused of murder highlights widespread concerns over the conduct of Egypt's courts in recent years, amid the broader political crackdown following the 2013 ouster of Morsi. Human rights groups have slammed the judicial system for repeatedly reaching mass convictions and handing down mass death penalty sentences.

A group of United Nations experts warned in 2014 that the country's judicial system is "in critical need of being reformed," a judgment that was fiercely rejected by Egypt.