In A Shocking Verdict, An Egyptian Court Has Sentenced 78 Children To 5 Years In Prison

The presiding judge handed down combined sentences totalling 340 years.

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78 Egyptian minors, aged between 13 and 17, have been handed sentences of between two and five years in prison by a juvenile court in Alexandria on charges of "belonging to an outlawed group," Aljazeera reported via Egypt's state news agency

There have been numerous protests over the use of mass trials in Egypt in recent months

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An Egyptian court Wednesday sentenced 78 minors between two and five years in prison for taking part in demonstrations calling for the return of ousted president Mohammed Mursi, judicial sources said.

Wednesday’s court ruling came days after two protesters succumbed to injuries sustained during the forcible dispersal by Egyptian police of an opposition rally west of Cairo.

The minors' lawyers were barred from attending the court hearing while their family members were forced to wait outside

Egyptian supporters shout slogans during a rally to mark the first anniversary of the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, in Cairo's Mattarya district on 3 July 2014

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The 78 minors were arrested for taking part in protests organised by the Muslim Brotherhood that called for the fall of the government and the return of deposed former president Mohamed Morsi to power.

They were also charged for obstructing traffic and for spreading fear among local residents and store owners.

“The 78 minors, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were arrested for participating in protests organised by the group calling for the downfall of the regime, where they blocked roads and transportation, and frightened citizens,” state news agency MENA also reported.

While the minors denied the charges and said that they were arbitrarily arrested, the judge handed down combined sentences totalling 340 years. However, their sentences can be appealed.

Students of Cairo University march during an anti-coup protest in Cairo, Egypt on 17 November 2014

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The boys' defence lawyer, Ayman El-Dabi, said that some of the boys had not been protesting and had just been "in the wrong place".

Since the army ousted Islamist president Morsi in July 2013, the government has launched a bloody crackdown against his supporters, leaving at least 1,400 dead and more than 15,000 jailed

Young men demonstrate in Cairo, Egypt, against a law banning protests without prior notice

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Protests against the Egyptian government have been held since the army overthrew Morsi last July following mass protests against his rule.

Demonstrations have been staged in support of Morsi but they have lost strength after a fierce security crackdown against his Muslim Brotherhood party.

At least 1,400 people are estimated to have been killed, more than 15,000 jailed and hundreds sentenced to death since Morsi's outing.

Several Brotherhood figureheads, including Morsi himself, are facing trials in several cases punishable by death.

About 200 supporters of the Islamist movement have been sentenced to death after speedy mass trials.

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