22 Muslim Brotherhood members sentenced to death: Reports
An Egyptian court sentenced 22 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday, judicial sources told Reuters.
The men were all accused of carrying out an attack on a police station in the Kerdasa district near Cairo in 2013, judicial sources said. One policeman was killed in the attack.
A juvenile defendant was given a 10-year sentence, the sources told Reuters. A lawyer representing the men said that they would appeal.
The incident was part of the wave of violence that hit Egypt after the July 2013 removal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
Since Morsi's ousting, authorities have launched a widespread crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters as well as other opponents. Courts have sentenced hundreds to death in mass trials, with tens of thousands thoughts to be languishing in Egyptian jails. More than 1,400 people have been killed.
The judge overseeing Monday's decision was Mohamed Nagi Shehata, who has played a prominent role in the judiciary's mass detentions of political opponents on both sides of the political spectrum.
The verdict comes a day before Morsi faces the prospect of a death sentence on Tuesday for inciting the killing of protesters.
He also faces the death penalty in two other trials, including one in which he is accused of spying for foreign powers, and escaping from prison during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolt. Separate verdicts in those two cases are due on 16 May.
A death sentence against Morsi cannot be ruled out, experts have said, especially since judges have already passed harsh verdicts against leaders of his blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier this month, Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Mohammed Badie and 13 other senior members of the now-outlawed group received death sentences for inciting chaos and violence. Badie on Sunday appeared at a court in Egyptian capital Cairo in orange-coloured garb – which is usually worn by inmates handed death sentences – for the first time since he was handed the sentence.
He described the ruling against him, and his involvement in 43 separate trials, as a "form of grave injustice".
The Muslim Brotherhood group has now called for mass demonstrations to coincide with the expected verdict against Morsi.
"The Egyptian people should rise up once again starting Tuesday to defend the popular will and legitimacy," the Brotherhood said in a statement on Monday.
"The coup commander [then army chief - and now president - Abdel Fattah al-Sisi] is exploiting the judiciary as a weapon in the battle against popular will and the democratic and revolutionary legitimacy represented by President Mohamed Morsi," a Brotherhood statement said.
Morsi was toppled by Sisi on 3 July 2013 after mass street protests against Morsi’s year-long rule.
In late 2013, the government designated Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group a "terrorist organisation".
The Brotherhood, for its part, says it is committed to peaceful opposition activism.