Death sentences for senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders

Court sentences Brotherhood leader to life in prison

An Egyptian court has confirmed death sentences for 10 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures, eight of them in absentia, including Abdel-Rahman al-Barr, a member of the outlawed movement’s top executive office known as the Guidance Council.

The court in Qaliubia, north of Cairo, also sentenced the Brotherhood's leader Mohamed Badie and 36 other militants to life in prison, on charges of inciting deadly violence following the military's removal of Islamist former president Mohammed Morsi last July.

On 5 July the court ruled that the defendants were involved in orchestrating violence "to achieve terrorist goals", as well as the murder of two people during protests after the overthrow of Morsi. Badie already faces the death sentence in two other cases.

The latest sentence follows a June hearing that upheld the death penalty for Badie and 182 other Muslim Brotherhood members, charged over a 2013 attack on a police station in Minya, 250km south of Cairo, in which a policeman was killed.

Morsi has remained in custody since his overthrow, and faces four separate trials on charges including inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012, following a decree that awarded him sweeping powers.

Over the last year Egypt has cracked down severely on the Muslim Brotherhood, declaring it an illegal organisation, freezing its assets and jailing an estimated 16,000 of its members and alleged supporters. About 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes.

Before being elected president of Egypt last month, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi pledged to crush the Brotherhood, saying it will never return as an organisation and accusing it of using militant groups as a front to destabilise the country.

Rulings by Egyptian courts, inlcuding mass death sentences, continue to cause widespread criticism from human rights groups and the United Nations.

On 23 June three al-Jazeera journalists received lengthy jail terms after being convicted of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. However al-Sisi told local media on 6 July that the sentences given to the three journalists had a "very negative" impact on Egypt's reputation, saying he wished they had been “deported immediately after their arrest instead of being put on trial.”

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