Muslim Brotherhood supporter in Egypt
Muslim Brotherhood supporter in EgyptReuters

Egypt’s top prosecutor has referred 439 people to military tribunals for acts of violence, including the killing of three policemen last year, The Associated Press (AP) reported on Sunday.

Security officials said that one group was made up of 139 men described as Islamists from the southern province of Minya, while another was comprised of 300 from the Nile Delta province of Beheira.

The cases involve last year’s wave of violence that came in retaliation to a bloody police dispersal of an Islamist sit-in.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Islamists have been the subject of an ongoing crackdown which began in the summer of 2013 when the army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Last week, a Cairo court referred four Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who are on trial for the killing of nine and injuring more than 90 in 2013, to Egypt's grand mufti to consider the death penalty.

The defendants in the case include 17 Brotherhood leaders, among which are former Parliament Speaker Saad El-Katatni, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, and his deputy Khairat El-Shater.

A week earlier, a court sentenced 188 defendants to death for a violent attack on a police station after Morsi’s ouster that left 11 police personnel and two civilians dead.

More than 500 people were sentenced to death in March for a separate attack on a police station in Minya on the same day.

In April, another 683 supporters of Morsi, including leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death as well.

The rise of mass convictions in Egypt has been described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".

Human Rights Watch has said that Egypt’s military courts “lack even the shaky due process guarantees provided by regular courts.”

The group said the decree “risks militarizing the prosecution of protesters and other government opponents,”  according to AP.