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Egypt court sentences 10 members of Muslim Brotherhood to death

Muslim Brotherhood defendants gesture behind the bars during a court session in Cairo, Egypt, December 26, 2018. (File photo by Reuters)

A court in Egypt has handed down death penalties in the case of 10 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, finding them guilty of terror-related charges dating back to 2015.

According to a judicial source on Sunday, of the 10 convicts nine were in custody while one was sentenced in absentia.

The state-run MENA news agency said they were part of a broader plot to attack police targets in the Cairo area with the aim of toppling the government.

The 10 who were sentenced to death had formed a group called ‘Helwan Brigades’, MENA said, in reference to a city south of the capital Cairo. Egypt's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, has to ratify the sentences, it said.

The identities of the defendants were not disclosed.

Egypt mounted one of the biggest crackdowns in its recent history on the Brotherhood following the army’s overthrow in 2013 of then President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically-elected president. Following the coup, Cairo labeled the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.”

General-turned-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led Morsi's ouster, has led the crackdown on the Brotherhood, jailing thousands including its top leaders. Morsi died in custody in June 2019 after falling ill during a court hearing.

Sisi, who has been serving as the president since 2014, has faced international criticism for clamping down on civil society groups and for crushing any form of dissent against his autocratic rule. Rights groups say the army’s treatment of Morsi’s supporters since 2013 has led to the death of hundreds of people and the arrest of thousands of others.

Rights organizations in Egypt and across the world have recorded cases of irregularities in the trials of political prisoners in the country. The government in Cairo has long faced criticism over its human rights record.

The administration of US President Joe Biden recently approved $2.5 billion in proposed arms sales to Egypt in spite of ongoing concerns over the issue of human rights.

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