CAIRO (AP) – Egypt’s highest criminal court upheld the death sentences of 12 people involved in a 2013 Islamist protest, including leaders of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, state media reported.
All 12 were convicted and sentenced in a mass trial in 2018 for their participation in a protest sit-in that was violently dispersed by security forces in an operation that left hundreds dead. The case resulted in 739 people being convicted of a series of charges ranging from murder to property damage.
The Court of Cassation also overturned the death sentences of 31 other people in the same case, giving them life imprisonment instead, the MENA news agency reported.
The court upheld life in prison for the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, and 46 others. 15-year jail terms were also upheld Monday for 374 defendants and 10 years in prison for 23 others.
All the sentences, which the court considered on appeal, are final.
The sit-in in a square in a Cairo suburb was organized by supporters of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was a member of the Brotherhood. He became Egypt’s first freely elected president in 2012, but was ousted in July 2013 by the army after days of street protests calling for him to resign.
The breakdown of that sit-in and another in Cairo also organized by Islamists is widely believed to have left some 900 people dead. Following the dispersions, Islamists attacked and burned police stations and churches across the country.
The 2018 court ruling included death sentences for 75 defendants, including 44 who were jailed and 31 overall, in a massive trial that drew harsh criticism from rights groups at home and abroad.
Defendants who were tried and convicted in absentia by the Cairo Criminal Court will be tried again after arrest.
In recent years, several mass trials of Islamists have taken place in Egypt, resulting in dozens of death sentences. Some of the death sentences have been overturned on appeal.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director of research and advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa, said Monday’s verdict came after a significant spike in executions in Egypt in 2020, making him the third most frequent executioner. in the world with 107 executions.
“These relentless death sentences, handed down in 2018 after a grossly unfair mass trial, are a stain on the reputation of Egypt’s highest appeals court and cast a dark shadow over the entire judicial system of the country,” he said.
At least 51 men and women have been executed this year so far this year, he said.