Cairo: A court in Egypt today sentenced to death 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on charges of killing a policeman and attacks on people and property, in one of the country’s largest mass trials.

The court in Minya sentenced 529 activists of the Muslim Brotherhood – to which 62-year-old Morsi belongs – to death.

They were convicted, among other charges, of the murder of the deputy commander of the Matay district police station in Minya, in southern Egypt.     The court also acquitted 16 other defendants.

Ahram Online reported it was the largest set of death sentences handed to defendants in the modern history of Egypt.

Defence lawyer Muhammad Shubeib said the verdict will be appealed. He also complained that he had no chance to present his case and the ruling was issued after two sessions only.

Authorities cracked down heavily on the Islamists after the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in Rabea al Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo last August.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested since.

More than 150 suspects were in court for the trial – the others were convicted in absentia.

Morsi was ousted by the military last July following mass street protests against his government.

He is facing four separate trials and the Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist organisation with authorities punishing any public show of support for it.

A second group of 700 Morsi supporters is due to go on trial tomorrow.

Egypt has been in political turmoil since the overthrow of military dictator Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and later under Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president.

Morsi’s term was plagued by political uncertainty and violence in a deeply polarised country that ultimately led to his ouster by the powerful military.

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