Egypt Puts Muslim Brotherhood Leader, 682 Others on Trial
Cairo – The leader of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and 682 others went on trial on Tuesday on charges including murder, their lawyer said, a day after more than 500 supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi were sentenced to death. Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, 70, and the others were being tried in the same court in Minya Province that condemned 529 members of the Islamist group to death, in what rights groups said was the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt’s modern history.
The United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday the mass death sentences contravened international law, and voiced concern for others facing the same charges. The European Union and the United States also criticised the ruling. The army has cracked down hard on the Brotherhood since it toppled Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in July.
In August, security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters who staged a long sit-in to demand Mursi’s reinstatement. Thousands of others were arrested and top leaders, including Mursi himself, are also on trial. Defence lawyers boycotted Tuesday’s court session – attended by 60 of the defendants – after complaining of irregularities.
“We refrained from attending … because the judge has violated criminal law procedures and did not allow the (lawyers) to present their defence,” Adel Ali, a member of the defence team, told Reuters. He said that 77 of the defendants were in custody while the rest had either been released on bail or were on the run. (Reuters)