Egypt court confirms mass death sentences for Islamists
By Haitham El-tabei, AFP
June 22, 2014, 12:04 am TWN
MINYA, Egypt--An Egyptian court confirmed Saturday death sentences for more than 180 Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie, a prosecutor said, after a mass trial that sparked an international outcry.
The court in the central city of Minya had initially sentenced 683 people to death, but on Saturday it commuted death sentences of four defendants to life in prison, including two women, and acquitted 496 others, prosecutor Abdel Rahim Abdel Malik told AFP.
Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year, hundreds of his supporters and Badie himself have been sentenced to death in trials roundly criticised by human rights watchdogs.
The 183 Islamists sentenced to death on Saturday were convicted of involvement in the murder of two policemen and attempted murder of five others in Minya province on August 14, the day police killed hundreds of Morsi supporters during clashes in Cairo.
They were also found guilty of vandalism, attacking public property, bearing arms and joining illegal organisations, prosecutor Abdel Malik said.
Lawyers said most of those sentenced to death were still on the run.
"The defence lawyers were unable to attend the trial and defend their clients. The court violated the defendants' rights of defence and gave its decision quickly," said one of them, Mohammed Tosson, adding they intended to appeal.
Journalists had also been barred from attending the trial.