Egyptian court sentences 683 people to death
Amnesty condemns 'farcical' mass trial amid crackdown that has seen 16,000 arrested
AN Egyptian judge has recommended the death penalty for 683 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members, and confirmed that 37 of 528 people who were condemned to death in March will now be executed. The other 491 were sentenced to 25 years each in prison.
Al Jazeera describes scenes of hysteria outside the court as the defendants' relatives were unable to verify which 37 people had been confirmed for execution.
The sentences relate to violence that occurred after the army-led overthrow of Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi – the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among those sentenced was the Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie.
The judgement was condemned by the UN and human rights groups. Mohamed Elmessiry, an Amnesty International researcher monitoring the cases, said the accused "lacked basic fair trial guarantees" and that case had "killed the credibility" of Egypt's judiciary. Defence lawyers boycotted the final session, describing the process as "farcical".
Last month, the UN human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, described the earlier mass trial as "cursory" and declared that it had breached international human rights law.
Around 16,000 people have been arrested since Morsi was overthrown in July last year, including many of the Muslim Brotherhood's senior leaders. At least 1,000 of the interim government's opponents have been sentenced since last December, the BBC says.
The former president Mohamed Morsi faces several trials himself, and has been charged over the deaths of ten protesters outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace in December 2012.
Egypt's interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist group" – a claim the Brotherhood strongly denies.