Egypt sentences 75 Islamists to death

Egyptian court has sentences to death 75 Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders, in connection with 2013 clashes.

Elad Benari,

Muslim Brotherhood members stand trial
Muslim Brotherhood members stand trial
Reuters

An Egyptian court has sentenced to death 75 Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and referred what was the largest single case of capital punishment convictions to the country's top religious authority, AFP reported.

The sentences were handed down on Saturday, according to the report.

Egyptian law requires the grand mufti to be consulted on death sentence cases, although his opinion is not legally binding and those convicted still have the right to appeal.

Those found guilty were among 713 defendants on trial for killing policemen and vandalizing property during clashes that broke out in 2013 between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Senior Brotherhood members Mohamed el-Baltagui, Issam al-Aryan and Safwat Hijazi were in the dock, while 31 others were tried in absentia.

Also on trial was prominent photojournalist Mahmud Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, who in May received UNESCO's Press Freedom Prize. The court postponed a verdict on his and other cases, according to AFP.

On August 14, 2013, one of the bloodiest days in Egypt's modern history, a month after the army ousted Morsi, police moved to disperse a sprawling Islamist protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya square in Cairo.

About 700 people were killed within hours at Rabaa al-Adawiya and the capital's Nahda Square where another sit-in was being held.

Hundreds more were killed in street clashes with police for several months after the August carnage and mass arrests were carried out.

Egyptian authorities have launched a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters since the 2013 ouster of Morsi.

As part of the crackdown, thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been jailed and the group was blacklisted as a terrorist organization.

Last May, an Egyptian court sentenced the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, to life in prison for "planning violent attacks".

Morsi himself has been sentenced to decades in prison in several cases, including one alleging he used unauthorized violence, arrest and torture to put down a protest outside the presidential palace, and another based on his leadership position in the Muslim Brotherhood. Other cases are still pending.

Last September, a court in Egypt upheld a life sentence against Morsi on charges stemming from a trial over spying for Qatar.

In November of 2016, Egypt's court of cassation overturned a life sentence against the Islamist former President in a case that revolves around accusations of espionage with Hamas.

A week earlier the court overturned a death sentence against Morsi in a case in which he and five other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced for their roles in organizing a mass prison break in 2011.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of inciting the killing of protesters, in an incident that saw 10 people gunned down outside the presidential palace in December 2012.


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