An Egyptian court has upheld a dozen death sentences and 157 life terms for members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood over alleged crimes relating to the storming of a police station some four years ago.
Minya Criminal Court on Monday upheld the sentences against the defendants over various alleged acts of violence, including storming of Matay police station, killing Colonel Mostafa El-Attar, the deputy chief of the police station, seizing its weapons and setting it on fire following the forced dispersion of a pair of mass sit-ins at al-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo on August 13, 2013.
Demonstrators at the time had gathered to express their strong opposition to the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup led by then army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi a month earlier.
The controversial ouster sparked many protests by supporters of Morsi and led to the killing of several hundreds of demonstrators by security forces.
Back in 2014, 37 defendants received death sentences before the court ordered a retrial in the case.
The country’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, who must review all death sentences according to the country’s penal code, has already approved the verdicts. His opinion is legally required but not binding.
On Monday, 227 of other pro-Morsi suspects in the same case were acquitted.
Rights groups in Egypt and across the world have recorded cases of irregularities in the trials of political prisoners in the country. They say the army’s clampdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the deaths of some 1,500 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.
Sisi’s government has outlawed the Brotherhood organization, which is Egypt’s oldest opposition movement. The group operated under strict measures during the rule of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was himself removed from power in a public uprising in 2011.
Morsi, the leader of the Brotherhood, had been sentenced to death on charges of corruption, escaping from prison and inciting violence before the Court of Cassation overturned that ruling in November last year and ordered a retrial.