Egyptian Court Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters To Death

The defendants were charged with murder and inciting violence during August protests in southern Egypt.
Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 24, 2014

It's one of the largest death sentences in modern Egyptian history. 

A criminal court has sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death. The charges against them include murder of a police officer, attempted murder of two others and attacking a police station back in August. (Via NTDTV / Video 7

That unrest came after government forces broke up two makeshift protest camps of Brotherhood supporters in Cairo, leaving hundreds dead. (Via Euronews)

Thousands of Egyptians had been camped out, vowing to stay there until deposed President Mohammed Morsi was returned to power. Morsi himself, Egypt's first democratically-elected president, faces three trials involving various charges. (Via ABC, BBC)

Monday's mass sentencing is just the latest example of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi's removal. 

​A Cairo-based human rights lawyer called the sentencing a "catastrophe," telling Bloomberg Egypt now runs the risk of causing "those who haven’t been violent in the past to resort to violence." 

Since this summer, thousands of Brotherhood members, including most of its leadership, have been jailed.  An Egyptian court in September froze the organization's assets and banned its activities. (Via CBS

In December, the interim government took it a step further — designating the Islamist group a terrorist organization, meaning harsher prison sentences for members. (Via The New York Times

According toAhram Online, the death sentences for the 529 Morsi supporters must now be ratified by the country's leading authority on religious law, otherwise known as the Grand Mufti. 

The verdict can be appealed, and observers say they expect a retrial. Another 700 defendants will be on trial Tuesday. They're also charged with inciting violence last August.