Egyptian court convicts 529 Morsi supporters to death

Egyptian court convicts 529 Morsi supporters to death

PanARMENIAN.Net - A court in Egypt convicted 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and sentenced them to death on charges of murdering a policeman and attacking police in one of the largest mass trials in the country in decades, the Associated Press reports.

The majority of the defendants were tried in absentia while more than 150 stood trial in unprecedentedly rushed hearings that lasted only two days. Sixteen suspects were acquitted.

The verdicts — and the extremely harsh sentences — are likely to be overturned on appeal, rights lawyers said after the trial ended in the city of Minya, south of Cairo.

"This is way over the top and unacceptable," said attorney Mohammed Zarie, who heads a rights center in Cairo. "It turns the judiciary in Egypt from a tool for achieving justice to an instrument for taking revenge."

"This verdict could be a precedent both in the history of Egyptian courts and perhaps, tribunals elsewhere in the world," he added.

The mass nature of the trial testifies to the determination of Egypt's military-backed government to break the Muslim Brotherhood group and leave no room for political reconciliation with the country's largest Islamist bloc, from which Morsi hails.

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

A total of 545 suspects were charged with the killing of a police officer, attempted killing of two others, attacking a police station and other acts of violence in August.

The rioting was a backlash for the Aug 14 police crackdown on two pro-Morsi sit-in camps in Cairo, which killed hundreds of people and sparked days of unrest across the country.

Egypt's military toppled Morsi in July, after four days of massive demonstrations by his opponents demanding he step down for abusing power during his year in office.

Since the ouster and the August dispersal of the Cairo sit-ins, Morsi's Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters have staged near-daily demonstrations that usually descend into violent street confrontations with security forces.

The military-backed government in the meantime unleashed a wave of arrests, detaining hundreds, including top Brotherhood leaders.

At the same time, militant bombings, suicide attacks and other assaults — mostly by an al-Qaida-inspired group — have increasingly targeted police and military forces in retaliation for the crackdown on Islamists.

The authorities have blamed the Brotherhood for the violence, branding it a terrorist organization and confiscating its assets. The group has denied any links to the attacks and has denounced the violence.

On Tuesday, another mass trial against Morsi's supporters opens, also in Minya, with 683 suspects facing similar charges. The defendants in that case include Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who also faces multiple other trials, and senior members of the group from Minya.

Related links:
 Top stories
French police say the search for passenger remains and debris on the mountain slopes could take another two weeks.
"I keep coming back to the fact that there is a connection between the Syrian crisis and what is happening in Ukraine," Assad said.
Investigators will also need the other black box which records flight data, information that is essential for probing air accidents.
"It's going to take a new generation of courageous conservatives to help make America great again," Cruz said.
Partner news
Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921

Operation Nemesis was a covert operation by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation carried out from 1920 to 1922, during which a number of former Ottoman political and military figures were assassinated for their role in the Armenian Genocide.