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Egyptian court upholds death sentence for Brotherhood members

Senior Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy (C) gestures from behind a court cage as the judge reads out the verdict sentencing him and more than 100 other defendants in 2015. (By AFP)

A court in Egypt has upheld the death sentence issued against a dozen defendants convicted in the case of a 2013 sit-in protest in Cairo that spiraled into deadly turmoil.

A judicial official said the Court of Cassation on Monday upheld and confirmed the verdict by a lower court pertaining to the 12 Muslim Brotherhood members, including two senior leaders of the movement: Mohamed el-Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy.

The conviction was based on “arming criminal gangs which attacked residents and resisted policemen as well as possessing firearms and ammunition... and bomb-making material,” the court said in its ruling. Other charges include “killing policemen... resisting authorities... and occupation and destruction of public property.”

The court also reduced sentences for 31 other Brotherhood members to life in prison.

The rulings are final and cannot be appealed.

The original case, dating back to 2013, had over 600 defendants and is locally known as the ‘Rabaa clearing case.’

Security forces raided and killed hundreds of people in a single day in August 2013, a few weeks after then President Mohamed Morsi, the head of the political wing of the Brotherhood, was unseated.

Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically-elected president in 2012 but was ousted in July 2013 in a military coup led by then head of the armed forces and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Rights groups say the army’s crackdown since 2013 on the supporters of Morsi has led to the death of hundreds of people and the arrest of thousands of others.

Following the coup, Cairo labeled the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.”

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