529 Morsi supporters sentenced to death by Egyptian court
A court in Egypt has sentenced to death 529 supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi, convicting them of charges including murder of a police officer and attacks on people and property.
The defendants are among 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters on trial arrested in August 2013 in Cairo during an unrest when supporters of the former president reacted violently to the clearance of a pro-Morsi sit-in.
The verdict now goes to Egypt’s supreme religious authority for approval or rejection. If the sentence is passed, it will be the largest mass death penalty to be carried out in modern history.
The death sentences are not final and appeals are expected. Families of the accused and rights lawyers described Monday’s judgement as “a miscarriage of justice” and said that “they were not allowed to present a proper defence”.
A person whose father is among the 529 sentenced to death said: “This is not a judicial sentence, this is thuggery.”
Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested in the authority’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood group since Morsi was removed by the military in July.
Commenting on the decision taken by the Egyptian court today Abdul Fattah, the Muslim Brotherhood spokesman in London said: “The sentences showed that Egypt was now a dictatorship. It may be just a threat message and there will be appeals to the court and the decision of the court will change, but this is the new Egypt after the coup. This is the new dictatorship that army chief and defence minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is trying to establish.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist group and authorities in Egypt have punished any public support for it.
The leader of the brotherhood Mohammed Badie, along with a group of 700 Morsi supporters are due to go on trial at the same court on Tuesday.
Fernand Vincent Manancourt