The spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood and another 180 others were given death sentences on Saturday in an Egyptian court as another mass trial has completed, following the overthrow last year of Egypt’s Islamist democratically elected president.
The Minya Criminal Court ruling is the largest mass death sentence confirmed to be given in Egypt in recent memory. Said Youssef is the judge who handed down the sentencing and presided earlier over another mass trial. It is the second time Mohammed Badie, the spiritual leader for the Brotherhood has been sentenced to death since the harsh crackdown started against the group.
In the same case over 400 others were acquitted by the court. Family members of the accused cheered or wailed upon hearing the verdicts.
This case stems from the attack that took place at a police station in el-Adwa a town near Minya in the south on August 14. The attack killed a police officer and civilian.
Other similar attacks took place across the country after the security crackdown on the sit-ins in Cairo that supported Mohammed Morsi the ousted president.
The charges for this case were joining a terrorist group, murder, sabotage, terrorizing civilians and possession of weapons.
Youssef initially sentenced over 683 to death for the attack, and then he sent the case to the country’s spiritual leader Grand Mufti. The Mufti offered an opinion and returned the case to Youssef for confirmation of his sentencing.
The lawyers representing the accused said an appeal was planned. Of the first 683 convicted, all by 110 had been in absentia, meaning they will be given new trials when apprehended as is guaranteed by law in Egypt.
The huge trials have received worldwide criticism. However, they have continued with a large number of Egyptians seeming to approve of the measures that have been heavy-handed as a means to end turmoil in their country that started with the “Arab Spring” revolt in 2011 that eventually resulted in Hosni Mubarak being forced from office.
The hearing on Saturday took fewer than 15 minutes to complete. Only 75 prisoners had been brought to the jail attached to the court, but never attended the judge’s decision.