Egypt continues to oppress the pro-Morsi dissidents and Muslim Brotherhood members by issuing death sentences, as the organization's leader, Mohammad Badie, along with 13 others are condemned to death
Egypt's state-run media has reported that an Egyptian court sentenced Muslim Brotherhood's leader Mohammad Badie and 13 other Muslim Brotherhood members to death on Monday, with the verdict of setting up a control room to direct the organization's members across Egypt and inciting chaos and planning attacks on police and army institutions. The verdict was handed to the Grand Mufti which is the highest Islamic legal office and the first step for imposing the sentence.
Although the Mufti's rule is not binding, Egyptian laws require receiving a religious opinion before any execution takes place. Egypt's official media MENA reported that the judge who oversaw the decision was Mohamed Nagi Shehata, who has played a prominent role in the Egyptian judiciary's mass sentences of the Muslim Brotherhood members. Defense lawyer Ahmad Helmi branded the verdicts "farcical", in a telephone interview with AFP. He said the verdicts were handed down even though the defense had not finished its closing arguments concerning five of the defendants. The final decision will be given on April 11 and the defendants may appeal it. Meanwhile, a court in the northern city of Mansura also sentenced to death eight Brotherhood members accused of setting up a "terror cell" and murdering opponents of the organization, state news agency MENA reported.
Badie is one of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood figures and supporters who have been arrested in a deadly crackdown following the overthrow of the first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi by the incumbent President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The case against Badie springs from an attack against a police station near the southern city of Minya on August 14, when a policeman and a civilian were killed. The attack was a reprisal after police killed hundreds of people during the dispersal of a sit-in in Cairo by supporters of Morsi. The Brotherhood has been called a "terrorist organization" by the Egyptian authorities. His supporters have organized demonstrations against persistent military-backed government violence, which has often led to clashes. An Egyptian court sentenced 230 activists to life prison, another one to death sentence on January. Another court has also sentenced 183 people to death over the killing of 15 policemen. The verdict came at the end of one of several mass trials in Egypt that have sparked an international outcry over the sentencing of hundreds of defendants on similar charges. Many of the death sentences were later overturned on appeal, and in one incident, a judge was removed.
In March, the same court that sentenced Badie to death was at the center of an international outcry when the court handed out death sentences to 529 alleged Morsi supporters. The judge subsequently confirmed 37 of these sentences and commuted the rest to life in prison. Morsi has been in prison since he was ousted and is on trial for inciting the killing of opposition demonstrators in December 2012 in front of the presidential palace. The ousted president also faces charges of espionage, in collaboration with the Palestinian Hamas movement. The government crackdown against Morsi supporters since his abduction has led to the killing of at least 1,400 people while 15,000 have been imprisoned. According to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a local NGO, said that more than 41,000 Egyptians had been subject to prosecution since Morsi's ouster.
While the death and life sentences were declared, Egyptian authorities have said that 301 people of those arrested over the past 18 months remained in custody for violating a law restricting street protests. According to Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif, out of 2,703 people arrested for illegal demonstration since June 30 of 2013, 2,402 had since been acquitted or released due to insufficient evidence.
On July 3, 2013 the first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi was toppled after a bloody military coup, headed by the incumbent President and former General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Morsi was accused of deteriorating the Egyptian economy, aiding Hamas, spying for certain countries and polarizing society. People who were against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood went to the streets at the end of June to protest the Islamist government. After the protests started, the army sided with the protesters and gave an ultimatum to Morsi that said he had to resign in two days. Morsi stressed the fact that he was elected and only another election could remove him. The army did accept Morsi's argument of being elected. While the tension escalated in Cairo among different factions and the army, the people on the streets also expressed different demands. The sit-in protests to show solidarity with Morsi started even before the anti-Morsi protests. Despite the support of the masses the army overthrew Morsi and his cabinet, violating the constitution and universal democratic values.
Morsi and many other prominent political figures that were also either members of the Muslim Brotherhood or related to it were arrested. Pro-Morsi and pro-democracy protesters did not leave the streets. They chanted slogans against Sissi and the coup. Sissi claimed that the protesters were threating national security while making a call to his supporters to go to Tahrir Square. Sissi finally gave the order to clear Rabaa Square and at least 817 demonstrators were killed by Egyptian security forces. Also thousands of people were arrested and tortured.
The international community including Turkey and the Western countries and right groups harshly condemned Egypt over the mass killings and imprisonments. The Human Rights Watch organization report on the Rabaa massacre released on August 12 revealed the systematic and intentional use of excessive lethal force by police and army forces that resulted in the mass killings of protesters on a scale unprecedented in Egypt.