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529 Muslim Brotherhood members sentenced to death in Egypt


Cairo : An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on charges including murder on Monday, a defense lawyer said, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the movement, Reuters reported. The court has referred the defendants to the Mufti, who issues legal opinions and edicts, to approve a death sentence, Egyptian state television reported.

Those convicted are part of a group of 545 defendants on trial for the killing of a police officer, attempted killing of two others, attacking a police station and other acts of violence. “The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants and 16 were acquitted,” lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif told Reuters news agency. The ruling can be appealed. The trial is part of a government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which started after the removal of President Mohamed Morsi in July.

Most of the defendants were arrested during clashes which erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on August 14. Only 123 of the defendants were present. The rest were either released, out on bail or on the run. A second group of about 700 defendants will be in the dock on Tuesday. They are accused of attacking both people and public property in southern Egypt in August.

The government has declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist” group. It comes as Al Jazeera journalists will be returning to court as part of their ongoing trial for spreading false news and being part of a terrorist organization. Al Jazeera denies all charges leveled against its staff.