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  • 24 March 2014, 14:11

Egypt Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters To Death

More than 500 Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced to death during a mass trial at a court in southern Egypt.

The sentence was delivered after only two days of evidence, with the defendants' lawyers complaining they had no chance to present their case.

"The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants and 16 were acquitted," lawyer Ahmed al Sharif said.

Of those sentenced, only 153 are in detention. The rest are on the run and have been sentenced in absentia.

The harsh sentences have been criticised by human rights lawyers, who say the execution orders are likely to be overturned on appeal.

"This is way over the top and unacceptable," said attorney Mohammed Zarie, who heads a rights centre in Cairo.

"It turns the judiciary in Egypt from a tool for achieving justice to an instrument for taking revenge.

"This verdict could be a precedent both in the history of Egyptian courts and perhaps, tribunals elsewhere in the world."

The defendants are among more than 1,200 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi on trial in Minya.

They are accused of attacking both police and public property after security forces broke up two Cairo protest camps set up by supporters of Mr Morsi in August.

They were also accused of committing acts of violence that led to the deaths of two policemen in Minya, judicial sources said.

The accused include several leaders of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, including its supreme guide Mohamed Badie.

The former president is also on trial in three separate cases, including one for inciting the killing of protesters outside a presidential palace during his time in office.

Mr Morsi's supporters have faced a violent crackdown since he was forced from power in July.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands arrested since the Muslim Brotherhood was banned.

The government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a "terrorist" organisation, a claim the group denies.

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