An Egyptian court has sentenced at least 528 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on charges related to violent riots in the southern Egyptian city of Minya last August, including the murder of a police officer.
The riots took place after a deadly crackdown by security forces on two large sit-ins in Cairo, where demonstrators were supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
While the official MENA news agency reported 528 death sentences, other Egyptian media said 529 people were sentenced to death.
The semi-official Ahram Online news site said it was the largest set of death sentences handed to defendants in the modern history of Egypt.
Not all of the defendants are in custody, according to EgyNews. The defendants can appeal their sentences. The court also acquitted at least 16 other defendants.
A second group of about 700 defendants will be in the dock on Tuesday. They are accused of attacking both people and public property in southern Egypt in August.
The government has declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist” group.
According to the Guardian, Waleed Sultan, whose father was among those sentenced to death, said: “Nothing can describe this scandal. This is not a judicial sentence, this is thuggery.”
He added: “The session last[ed] for five minutes, [and] during those five minutes none of the lawyers or the defendants were listened to – not even the prosecution. The judge just came in to acquit [the 16] and sentence to death the others.”
Mohamed Zaree, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), a prominent rights group, said: “This verdict is a disaster. To rule in the second session of a trial – it means the judge didn’t hear the defence or look at the evidence. Even someone from the second grade of the law faculty would never have issued this verdict – it goes against the basic principles of criminology.”