Apr 28 2014
An Egyptian court has sentenced to death the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and more than 680 others after a swift trial on charges of inciting or committing violence that led to the destruction of a police station and the killing of several officers.
NY Times (h/t Rob E) The verdict, after a trial lasting only a few minutes, came just a month after the same judge drew condemnation from around the world for sentencing 529 other people to death in a similarly lightning-fast mass trial. The judge, Sayedd Yousef, affirmed the death sentences Monday of about 40 of the defendants in that mass trial and commuted the others to life in prison, which is understood here to mean 25 years.
The verdicts Monday and last month are subject to appeal. Both sets of trials involved sentences in absentia for many defendants who are still at large, and if they are arrested all will receive a retrial. But there has been little, if any, public criticism of the decisions from within the Egyptian judiciary, once regarded as a bastion of relative liberalism within Egypt’s authoritarian system. (That’s because they know the Muslim Brotherhood is a band of thugs and terrorists who tried to turn Egypt into a radical Islamofascist state)
The speed and scale of the latest batch of sentences, in defiance of international (U.S.) outrage at the earlier one, appeared to underscore the judiciary’s energetic support for the new military-led government’s sweeping crackdown on its political opponents, including Islamist supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as more liberal groups.
In a separate ruling on Monday, a Cairo court banned the activities of the April 6 group, a liberal organization that spearheaded the revolt against President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The group continued its work opposing police brutality and pushing for democratic reforms under Mr. Morsi, and it has continued to defend the right to dissent since his military ouster last summer.
On Monday, a Cairo court ruled that the group had been collaborating with foreign powers and “committing acts that distort the image of the Egyptian state,” according to the official state newspaper.
The group’s leader, Ahmed Maher, and a co-founder, Mohamed Adel, are both already serving three-year sentences on charges of organizing an unauthorized street protest against the new military-backed government.
The rulings in the city of Minya, on the other hand, involved Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters. Both sets of cases related to a violent backlash against the police in August after the security forces used deadly force to break up sit-ins held by Mr. Morsi’s supporters to protest his ouster, killing as many as 1,000 people, according to the best estimates by independent rights groups.
Minya, an Islamofascist stronghold that was at the center of a militant insurgency 20 years ago, was a major flash point of the violence, with Islamists attacking several churches and police stations, and killing tens of policemen.
His death sentence marks another dramatic escalation in the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Badie, 70, who trained as a veterinarian and is known as the group’s supreme guide, is revered by hundreds of thousands of Islamists around Egypt as a religious authority and teacher.
If carried out, his death sentence would mark the first execution by Egypt of a supreme guide in more than six decades of often bloody attempts to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood. A supreme guide was sentenced to death during the crackdown on the Brotherhood when President Gamal Abdel Nasser took power in 1954, but the verdict was commuted to life in prison and the supreme guide, Hassan el-Houdaiby, was ultimately released.