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Egypt overturns death sentence against Muslim Brotherhood leader

Mohamed Badie and 36 others to be retried for their alleged part in planning protests at Rabaa, Cairo, after the coup against Mohamed Morsi
Mohamed Badie still faces the death sentence in a separate trial (AA)

An Egyptian court has overturned death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 11 others for allegedly plotting and carrying out acts of violence in protests against the 2013 army coup.

Badie, his co-accused, and 25 other defendants on lesser sentences are to be retried after the decision on Thursday in Cairo's Court of Cassation.

The group were appealing against their convictions for plotting unrest in a Cairo protest camp in the months after the army toppled president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, in July 2013.

The case came to be known as the "Rabaa operations room trial", a reference to a Cairo square that became a massive Brotherhood protest camp in the aftermath of Morsi's removal.

"The ruling concerns all 37 defendants who are behind bars. Twelve of them including Badie had been sentenced to death," defence lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told the AFP news agency.

Badie's co-defendants include US-Egyptian citizen Mohamed Soltan, who had been sentenced to life in prison.

Soltan was deported in May under a presidential decree stipulating that foreigners convicted in Egypt can be sent back to their home countries.

The original trial had accused the group of organising unrest and protests backing Morsi, a senior Brotherhood figure who was himself sentenced to death in a separate case.

Following Morsi’s removal by the army in July of 2013, hundreds of his supporters were killed when security forces violently dispersed two major sit-in protests in Cairo.

The sprawling Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp in Cairo was scattered by police on 14 August, 2013 in a 12-hour operation that left hundreds of pro-Morsi protesters and about 10 policemen dead.

The crackdown followed weeks of failed European and US-brokered negotiations with the Brotherhood, which was demanding Morsi's return to office.

He was the country's first freely elected president, but ruled for only a year before the army toppled him, spurred by massive protests demanding his resignation. 

The Brotherhood was later declared a "terrorist organisation" by Egypt.

Badie is facing several trials, and has been sentenced to death in a separate case along with Morsi for plotting prison breaks and attacks on police during the country’s 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

Badie is facing several trials, and has been sentenced to death in a separate case along with Morsi for plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the country's 2011 uprising that ousted ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

The Brotherhood chief has also been handed life sentences - each amounting to 25 years in prison - in five other cases.