Egypt court sentences hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Egypt court sentences hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Sarah Sirgany

 (CNN) -- An Egyptian court has sentenced the leader of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood and hundreds of supporters to death, state television said Monday.

Intensifying a crackdown on the Islamist movement ahead of elections next month, the same court also handed down a final capital punishment ruling for 37 others.

Charges in both cases, which were tried by the same judge, are related to violent riots in the central Egyptian city of Minya in August, including the murder of a police officer.

Mohammed Badie, the Brotherhood's leader, is among 683 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy whose death sentences are not final -- as the case has been referred to the nation's grand mufti, Egypt's highest religious authority, for review.

In the second case, relating to 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced to death last month, the judge upheld 37 death sentences. The rest saw their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Most of the people sentenced are being tried in absentia. All defendants are still permitted to appeal.

In an early reaction from a Western government, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter that the mass trials were an "outrage."

"The world must and will react!" he added.

The mass trials have already drawn widespread criticism from international human rights groups.

Internal strife

Egypt has faced unending turmoil since the uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Since the army removed Morsy, the country's first freely elected leader, from power last July, Egypt has suffered the worst internal strife in its modern history. Morsy and other Brotherhood leaders were rounded up soon after his removal from office.

Cairo's military-installed government has branded the Brotherhood a terrorist group, an allegation it denies.

Authorities also extended a crackdown to secular activists.

A Cairo court ordered a ban on all activities of the secular pro-democracy April 6 Youth Movement on charges of espionage and defaming the state, state media reported.

The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters also ordered the seizure of the group's premises. The movement helped ignite the uprising that toppled Mubarak. The ruling can still be appealed.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who led the outster of Morsy, is expected to easily win presidential elections on May 26-27 in a country long ruled by men from the military.
 CNN's Reza Sayah and Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.
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