Court Sentences 529 Egyptians To Death In 5-Minute Session. Here's What You Should Know

529 supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi have been sentenced to death on charges of killing a police officer, the attempted murder of two others and attacking a police station.

Cover image via

Egypt Court Confirms Death Sentences For 183 Muslim Brotherhood Supporters

An Egyptian court confirmed death sentences on Saturday against the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 182 supporters in a mass trial of the Islamists who ruled Egypt for a year but face a fierce crackdown under the new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Relatives of a Muslim Brotherhood member whose death sentence was confirmed reacted Saturday outside a court in Minya

Image via

The Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Badie, and other defendants were charged in connection with violence that erupted in the southern town of Minya after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, last July. One police officer was killed in the violence.

The court’s decision came two months after it referred the case against Mr. Badie, the spiritual leader of the now-outlawed Brotherhood, and 682 other defendants to a top religious authority, the first step in imposing death penalties. Those preliminary sentences set off outrage among Western governments and rights groups, with the United States and European Union both saying they were appalled by the rulings.

Since Mr. Morsi’s overthrow, which was followed by protests by his supporters, hundreds of Islamist protesters have been killed and thousands jailed in a crackdown by security forces. Five hundred army and police officers have also been killed.

Egypt Court Seeks Death Sentence For Leader Of Muslim Brotherhood And Its 682 Supporters

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie shouts slogans from the defendant's cage during his trial with other leaders of the Brotherhood in a courtroom in Cairo December 11, 2013.

Image via

An Egyptian court handed down a death sentence on the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters, intensifying a crackdown on the movement that could trigger protests and political violence ahead of an election next month.

Relatives and families of members of Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi react after hearing the sentence, in front of the court in Minya, south of Cairo, April 28.

Image via

A death penalty for Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's general guide, will infuriate members of the Brotherhood which has been the target of raids, arrests and bans since President Mohamed Mursi was forced from power by the military in July.

37 Other Death Sentences Were Also Handed Down As Part Of A Final Judgment On 529 Supporters

Egyptian women overcome by emotion fall to the ground after a judge sentenced to death more than 680 alleged supporters of the country’s ousted Islamist president over acts of violence and the murder of policemen in the latest mass trial in the southern city of Minya, Egypt, Monday, April 28, 2014.

Image via

The 37 death sentences were part of a final judgement on 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who were sentenced to death last month (March 2014).

The remaining 492 death sentences have now been commuted to life in prison.

The Biggest Trials In Egypt's Modern History Have Reinforced Fears Among Human Rights Groups

Mass trials in the biggest Arab state have reinforced fears among human rights groups that the military-backed government and anti-Islamist judges are using all levers of power to crush dissent.

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.

Image via

"The decisions are possibly the largest possible death sentences in recent world history. While they're exceptional in scale, they're certainly not exceptional in kind," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.

"It seems that these sentences are aimed at striking fear and terror into the hearts of those who oppose the interim government including the interim government," added Sarah.

The authorities have branded the Brotherhood a terrorist group, an allegation it denies.

26 March: One Killed As Hundreds Of Students Protest Mass Death Sentences In Egypt

One person was killed near Cairo University in Egypt Wednesday after clashes erupted between security forces and students protesting mass death sentences for supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Reuters reported.

Riot police fire rubber bullets and tear gas during a demonstration at the front of Cairo University March 26, 2014.

Image via

According to the report, a health ministry official said eight others were wounded, but could not give further details.

Protesters chant slogans outside of Cairo University in Giza, Egypt.

Image via

Students Who Attempted To Take Their Protest Outside The Campus Were Met With Volleys Of Tear Gas From Police

Riot police fire tear gas during clashes outside Cairo University in Giza, Egypt.

Image via

Students responded by throwing stones and fireworks and hurling tear gas canisters back at the security forces in pitched street battles. TV footage showed security in civilian clothes detaining protesters and taking them away in blindfolds. There were also images of the security seizing firebombs from young protesters.

Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a demonstration outside Cairo University in Giza, Egypt, on Wednesday, 26 March 2014.

Image via

In the Nile Delta city of Zagazig, police said students damaged the facade of an administrative building in the local university and clashed with rival students, prompting security forces to enter the campus and arrest eight rioters.

24 March: A Court In Egypt Has Sentenced 529 Supporters Of Ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi To Death

While the official MENA news agency reported 528 death sentences, other Egyptian media said 529 people were sentenced to death.

Female Morsi supporters protest on the ruling.

Image via

An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on charges including murder today, a defence lawyer said, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the movement.

Relatives reacting after an Egyptian court on Monday sentenced to death 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Image via

“The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants, and 16 were acquitted,” lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif said.

The alleged supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi were convicted on charges of killing a single police officer, the attempted murder of two other officers, and attacking a police station in the Nile Valley city of Minya in August. Sixteen people were acquitted.

The Ruling Was The Biggest Mass Death Sentence Handed Out In Egypt’s Modern History

Male Morsi supporters rally in Egypt.

Image via

Authorities have cracked down harshly on Islamists since Mr Morsi was removed by the military in July. Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested.

The yellow 4-fingered salute for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Image via

The death sentences are not final and appeals are likely; similar sentences have often been commuted in Egypt. But families of the accused and rights lawyers described the process as a miscarriage of justice.

It Was Also One Of The Quickest Cases In The History Of Egypt's Judiciary As It Came Only After Two Court Sessions

The court in Minya, south of the capital, Cairo, issued its ruling after only two sessions in which the defendants' lawyers complained they had no chance to present their case.

Protestors hold pictures of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and chant slogans on November 29, 2013 during a pro-Morsi rally in Istanbul.

Image via

“This is the quickest case and the number sentenced to death is the largest in the history of the judiciary,” said lawyer Nabil Abdel Salam, who defends some Brotherhood leaders including Morsi.

Supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi running for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in the northeastern part of Cairo's Nasr City district.

Image via

“This has never happened in the history of the Egyptian judiciary, or the history of any judiciary, as far as I know,” said Mohamed Zera, a lawyer with the Cairo-based Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners.

The Session Only Lasted About Five Minutes And None Of The Defendants Were Listened To

The session only lasted for five minutes, and during those five minutes none of the lawyers or the defendants were listened to – not even the prosecution. The judge just came in to acquit the 16 men and sentence to death the others.

A court in Egypt has sentenced to death 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Image via

"This verdict is a disaster. To rule in the second session of a trial – it means the judge didn't hear the defence or look at the evidence. Even someone from the second grade of the law faculty would never have issued this verdict – it goes against the basic principles of criminology," added Mohamed Zera.

Muslim Brotherhood savages in their cages during the trial.

Image via

"We're certainly raising it with the Egyptian government ... it's a pretty shocking number," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said of the sentences. "It defies logic that over 529 defendants could be tried in a two-day period in accordance with international standards."

Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood Safwat Hegazy, who is a group of 1200 defendants to be tried this week.

Image via

Harf added that the United States still considered its ties with Egypt to be important and added: "We don't want to completely cut off the relationship."

This Mass Sentencing Underscored The Severity Of An Ongoing Campaign By Egypt’s Military-Backed Leaders To Silence Opposition

Image via

"We did not expect such a brutal sentence. But at the same time this military regime just wants to kill anybody who wants to express an opinion. They are willing to kill everybody so that there is no freedom of expression," said Sayaf Gamal, one of the Brotherhood members sentenced to death, said by telephone. He is on the run.

Another 700 Supporters Are Due To Go On Trial On Tuesday, 25 March

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi wave their national flags during a demonstration at Nasr City.

Image via

A second group of 700 Morsi supporters is due to go on trial on Tuesday.

The Final Trial Session Will Not Be Held Until 28 April 2014

Pro-Mursi university students and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood occupy Tahrir Square for the first time since the removal of President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo.

Image via

The final trial session will not be held until 28 April, so there is some time left before the sentence is confirmed and there will be time to appeal in that period, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo.

Did You Know Mass Protests In Egypt On 30 June 2013 To Overthrow Then President Mohamed Morsi Was The Largest Protest In The History Of Mankind?

The protest was held in Tahrir Square on June 30th.

Image via

You may be interested in: