Egypt sentences more than 700 people for attending pro-Morsi protests in 2013

Thousands of protesters gathered after President Mohamed Morsi was removed via a military coup. [Image: Al Jazeera]

Egypt has sentenced more than 700 people for attending a pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-in protest after President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in 2013.

The court confirmed that 75 people had been given death sentences whilst 47 were handed life imprisonment, which included prominent activists, scholars and students of knowledge.

Human rights group Amnesty International has described the trial as “grossly unfair” and a violation of Egypt’s constitution.

Violence erupted at the 2013 protest in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square, with hundreds killed by security forces.

Earlier this year, Egypt’s parliament granted military officers immunity for the brutal crackdown and any crimes committed between July 2013 and January 2016.

Those who were sentenced in the mass trial were accused of security and terrorism-related offences, including incitement to violence, murder and organising illegal protests.

The 75 death sentences were handed down in July, and Saturday’s confirmation of them and the additional verdicts mark the end of the mass trial.

Prominent Muslim Brotherhood members and politicians were among those sentenced to life, including the group’s Supreme Guide, Mohammed Badie.

The award-winning photo-journalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, better known as Shawkan, also received a five-year prison sentence.

He was detained while taking pictures of the sit-in protest and the subsequent bloodbath. Abu Zeid is expected to walk free after having spent five years in jail pending trial.

Hundreds of people were arrested when the Egyptian army and police dispersed the peaceful pro-Morsi protest, which took place a month after the first democratically-elected president was forcibly removed the then military chief and current “president”, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Human Rights Watch has said the Egyptian security forces’ killing of at least 817 people probably amounted to a crime against humanity.

The Egyptian regime claimed that many protesters were armed, and that eight police officers were killed – although it initially said more than 40 members of the security services had died.

It has since declared the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation”.

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