Cairo- An Egypt military court sentenced 175 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to life in prison. The verdict was issued on Sunday in abstentia. At least 10 were acquitted on charges of committing violence and storming the Malawy museum in Minya in 2013.
More so, a Giza criminal court referred to Egypt’s Grand Mufti death sentences against two Egyptians convicted of murder. The two were convicted of killing two people including a policeman in 2015.
According to Egyptian law, all death sentences must be reviewed by the country’s Grand Mufti—the highest Muslim religious authority—though his recommendation to the court is not legally binding.
The 175 charged with life (25 years) have the right to be trialed, which will take place after their arrest, given that the ruling was issued in abstentia.
The court also issued varying prison sentences to 45 others in the same case. Of those, two senior Brotherhood figures were sentenced to five years in prison, lawyer Khaled al-Komy told Reuters. The verdict is subject to appeal.
Late Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat had referred the defendants to military trial in March 2015 on charges of sabotage, inciting violence, rioting and calling for protest.
A further 42 defendants received varying prison sentences. The defendants are supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, arrested during unrest that followed the dispersal in 2013 of sit-ins demanding his reinstatement.
Hundreds of those arrested in 2013 were later referred by prosecution to military courts.
A law passed in 2014 expanded the jurisdiction of military courts as it put vital public facilities under the joint protection of the military and police forces, thus subjecting any crimes committed against those facilities to the domain of the military judiciary.
Last month, an Egyptian court upheld a death sentence for Adel Habara, a Sinai-based militant convicted of killing a police detective in Sharqiya governorate in 2012. Habara was executed three days later.
On August 14, 2013, sit-ins organized by former president Mohamed Mursi’s supporters in Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Squares were violently dispersed by security forces almost six weeks after his removal from office.
Rabaa’s dispersal saw the killing of at least 1,150 demonstrators, according to Human Rights Watch in a 2014 report which said that it “probably amounts to a crime against humanity”.
The state’s National Council for Human Rights, however, said in March 2014 that the death toll was 632, including eight security personnel.