Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
An Egyptian woman screams after a judge sentenced to death 683 alleged supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president over acts of violence and the murder of policemen in the latest mass trial in the southern city of Minya, Egypt, Monday, April 28, 2014. Under the law, Monday's verdicts in Minya have to be referred to Egypt's Grand Mufti, the top Islamic official, said one of the attorneys, Ahmed Hefni. (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT
Egypt sentences 683 to death

Courts » Most serious crime: A police officer killed in clashes last summer.

First Published Apr 28 2014 08:56 pm • Last Updated Apr 28 2014 09:06 pm

Minya, Egypt • An Egyptian court in the southern city of Minya sentenced 683 people to death Monday in the most recent of a series of mass trials that have alarmed the international community

The ruling came one month after 529 people were sentenced to death in a similar mass trial in the same courtroom, and it coincided with a visit to Washington by Egypt’s foreign minister in an effort to smooth relations between the United States and one of its most significant allies in the Middle East.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The Obama administration quickly condemned the ruling, saying that it defied "even the most basic standards of international justice."

"Egyptian leaders must take a stand against this illogical action and dangerous precedent, recognizing that the repression of peaceful dissent will fuel the instability and radicalization that Egypt says it wishes to prevent," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

Those sentenced to death were all alleged supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was toppled last summer in a military coup. They included Mohammed Badie, the "supreme guide" of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which captured the lion’s share in Egypt’s first democratic elections, held in 2012.

All but 37 of the previous death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment, under a review by Egypt’s highest religious authority, it was announced Monday.

The most serious charge in Monday’s case was the killing of a single police officer during clashes between security forces and Morsi’s supporters across the nation last summer. The clashes broke out after Egyptian security forces launched deadly raids on pro-Morsi protest camps in the capital.

The defendants were barred from attending their own trial, which lasted only a few minutes, defense attorneys said. It was unclear what evidence the court had used to convict the men, who were described by families and defense attorneys as ordinary townspeople.

Defense attorneys said they would appeal the verdict. But anger was palpable in Minya and the nearby village of Al-Edwa, home to nearly all of the 683.

"It’s all going to hell - the judiciary and everything else," said Mohamed Saber, who sells juice and cigarettes from a roadside stand near the courthouse in Minya, where police and soldiers stood guard Monday. "How can you sentence so many people for just one crime?"

story continues below
story continues below

Egypt’s new military-backed government has increasingly cracked down on voices of dissent in the months since the coup, jailing tens of thousands of Islamist members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood as well as liberal democracy activists, journalists and university students.

Also on Monday, an Egyptian court banned the April 6 Youth Movement, one of the foremost pro-democracy activist groups that rallied Egyptians to take to the streets in 2011 against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In Washington, Egypt’s foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, avoided responding substantively to questions about the death sentences and argued that all Egyptian institutions, including the judiciary, are evolving.

"The whole society is going through a transformation," he said.

He asked attendees at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies not to "jump to conclusions" about how court cases were being handled.

While Fahmy said the government was striving to build a more "inclusive" nation, he defended the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, comparing it to steps the United States took in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"When you face terrorism and exceptional circumstances, you respond," he said.

Of the 683 men sentenced on Monday, only 70 are in custody, said Khaled Koumi, a defense attorney in the case. None of the men were allowed to appear in court for their trial, which involved only two short hearings, Koumi said.

"All we can do now is appeal," he said, calling the verdict a "sham."

Ahmed Shabeeb, a lawyer from the village of Matay, described the arrests and prosecution as arbitrary from the start.

"Anybody who had any dealings with the Brotherhood was taken in," said Shabeeb, who represents 30 of his fellow villagers who were sentenced to death last month. "If you greeted a Brotherhood member 10 years ago, you were arrested."

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.