The White House condemned on Monday the death sentences handed in Egypt to 683 supporters of former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi and said it was “deeply troubled” by them.
“While judicial independence is a vital part of democracy, this verdict cannot be reconciled with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law,” the White House said in a statement quoted by The Washington Times.
“Egyptian leaders must take a stand against this illogical action and dangerous precedent, recognizing that the repression of peaceful dissent will fuel the instability and radicalization that Egypt says it wishes to prevent,” said the statement.
The 683 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were convicted on charges related to violent riots in the central Egyptian city of Minya in August, including the murder of a police officer.
In the second case relating to 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who were sentenced to death in the same court in Minya last month, the judge upheld 37 death sentences but reversed the death sentences of the other 492, commuting most to life in prison. Most of the people sentenced are being tried in absentia.
The Islamist group's Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie was among the defendants found guilty Monday of attacking Adawa police station and killing a police officer, Mamdouh Kotb Mohamed Kotb, on August 14, 2013 – following the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa and Nahda squares.
Badie was arrested in late August after being discovered hiding in a building in Cairo’s Nasr City district.
The previous mass sentencing in March was condemned by the West, with the United States warning Egypt that executing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood may affect the aid that Washington provides to Cairo.
The latest case comes amid a continuing crackdown against Islamists by Egypt's military-backed government. Hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial, while Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.