Cairo: An Egyptian court today sentenced to death 22 Muslim Brotherhood supporters for attacking a police station and killing an officer on July 3, 2013, the same day the army overthrew country’s first elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The defendants were also accused of murder, attempt to murder, and possessing unlicensed weapons among other charges. Eight of the defendants were sentenced in absentia. One other defendant, who is a juvenile, got 10 years in prison in the same case.
Last month, the sentences were referred to the Grand Mufti, who according to the Egyptian law must review all death sentences, however his decision is not binding. A lawyer for the convicted men said they would appeal. Thousands of former Morsi supporters and Muslim Brotherhood members have been rounded up and put on trial since the army deposed the Islamist president Morsi in 2013 following massive street protests against his rule. An Egyptian court in March has sentenced supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie and 13 other leaders to death.
The 14 defendants were accused of establishing an operation room’ to direct their supporters as part of plans to defy the state and spread violence and chaos, following the dispersal of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins in August 2013 by the police.
Badie is currently standing a number of trials for violent acts committed by Muslim Brotherhood supporters. His sentence to death was later reduced to life imprisonment. Morsi himself is currently in prison over charges of killing peaceful protesters, espionage, escaping from prison during the January 25 Revolution in 2011, insulting the judiciary and for handing documents of national security to Qatari intelligence through the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel. He has not been sentenced in any case so far.