CAIRO – An Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death on Saturday, including top figures of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, for their involvement in a 2013 sit-in, state media reported.
The Cairo Criminal Court referred the sentences to the Grand Mufti – the country's top theological authority – for its non-binding opinion. Though non-binding, the formality of the case is closed.
Sentencing for more than 660 others involved in the case was scheduled for Sept. 8 , the Al-Ahram news website reported. Those sentences are also to be discussed.
Of the 75 defendants referred to the Mufti, 44 are jailed and 31 are at large.
The case involves a total of 739 defendants, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid. The charges range from damaging to damaging public property. Neither Badie nor Abu Zeid were sentenced to death in this case.
The 2013 sit-in, in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, Cairo, supported former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi who was militarily ousted following mass protests against his divisive one-year rule. Morsi hailed from the Brotherhood.
The sit-in was violently dispersed on Aug. 14, 2013. More than 600 people were killed.
Egyptian authorities have launched a massacre of crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters, arresting many of them on terror-related charges.
In 2014, an Egyptian judge sentenced 529 Morsi supporters to death before 492 were later commuted to life in prison. 37.
Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such sentencing in Egypt and calling for fair trials.
International rights groups denounced the mass trial of the 2013 sit-in. Amnesty International described it in a statement last month as a "grotesque parody of justice" and called on authorities to drop all charges against those arrested for peacefully protesting.
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