An Egyptian criminal court sentenced 12 of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi supporters to death on charges of attacking a police station in the Giza town of Kerdasa and killing a senior police officer.
The condemned men, held in a caged dock as is the standard practice in Egyptian courts, responded to the death verdict with defiant shouts of “God is great!” Mass tribunals involving dozens or even hundreds of defendants have become commonplace in recent months in Egypt, drawing strong criticism from human rights groups and legal advocates.
AHRAMProsecutors had referred 23 of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters to the criminal court on charges of killing Giza’s deputy security head, Major General Nabil Farrag, during an ambush by security forces on militant hideouts in the area.
The defendants were also charged with forming a terrorist group with aims of killing security personnel, funding terrorism, forming an illegal group, sabotaging public property, as well as attempted murder and possession of weapons.
Prosecutors in the trial said the defendants were motivated by jihadist ideology that mandates attacking security forces and Christians. According to Egyptian law, the verdicts must be referred to the country’s Mufti for review and ratification. The defendants’ also have the right to appeal.
The assault on Kerdasa police station that killed Farrag and injured 10 other officers was part of a spate of attacks last summer following the violent dispersal of two protest camps in favour of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
In March, southern Egypt’s Minya court sentenced 529 of Morsi supporters to death on charges of murdering a police officer. The court later upheld sentences on 37 of them and sentenced the rest to life in jail. One month later, a court, also in Minya, sentenced 683 Morsi supporters to death for attacking a police station and killing a police officer.
Mass death sentences were criticised by international and local rights groups.