Off With Their Heads: 529 Suspected Muslim Brotherhood Members Sentenced to Death for Killing of a Police Officer During Morsi Overthrow

Screenshot 2014-03-24 at 8.52.46 AMCAIRO — A criminal court in the city of Minya sentenced 529 people to death on Monday after a single session of their mass trial, convicting them of murder for the killing of a police officer in Minya during riots after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, state media reported.

The swift conviction of so many in one stroke was a sudden acceleration of the sweeping crackdown against Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters and against other dissenters that has unfolded since his removal last summer. After the overthrowing of Mr. Morsi, the military-led government killed more than a thousand people in shootings during protests against the takeover, and since then it has arrested many thousands of others as demonstrations have continued at universities and in the streets. Most of those arrested have been detained without charges or trials.

The verdict on Monday underscored the continuing determination of at least a part of the Egyptian judicial system to treat support for the ousted president as treason. In December, the government formally outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that backed Mr. Morsi and dominated Egypt’s first free elections, declaring it a terrorist group and subjecting any of its members or supporters to heavy penalties. The government has also issued another law criminalizing participation in unauthorized street demonstrations, with jail sentences for organizers.

The state newspaper Al Ahram reported that the verdict came at the start of the second session of the trial. The paper said that the 529 defendants, described by state media as Muslim Brotherhood members, were convicted of killing one police officer, of the attempted killing of a second, and of participating in rioting that destroyed a police station. Sixteen defendants were acquitted, the newspaper said.

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