An Egyptian court sentenced 10 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death in absentia on Saturday but postponed sentencing of its leader and other senior members tried in the case, judicial sources said.
Those sentenced were convicted on charges including inciting violence and blocking a major road north of Cairo during protests after the army toppled Egypt's first freely elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, last July.
All 10 were assumed to be in hiding amid a state crackdown on the group since Morsi's ouster.
One of those sentenced was Abdul Rahman al-Barr, a member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Council, the movement's executive board. Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, a well-known Salafi preacher who fled to Qatar after Morsi was toppled, also was sentenced in absentia.
Death-sentence recommendations in Egypt are passed on for review by the country’s grand mufti, the highest religious authority. The court can ignore his opinion and its rulings can be appealed.
Judge Hassan Fareed said the verdict for the remaining defendants would be announced at a July 5 hearing.
Those 38 defendants include the Islamist movement's General Guide Mohamed Badie and senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy, along with former ministers from Morsi's government.
"Down with the military court!" shouted the defendants in the courtroom. Speaking from the cage where defendants are held in Egyptian courtrooms,
Beltagy yelled condemnations against the judiciary, which he said was serving Egypt's militarized state.
He wore the dark uniform worn by defendants already sentenced in other trials.
He was given a one-year prison sentence in April for insulting the judiciary, the first sentence handed to a leader of the organization since it was outlawed.
Egypt's biggest political force until last year, the Brotherhood has been driven underground and declared a terrorist organization. Badie was among 683 people sentenced to death in April.
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and members of the security forces have been killed since Morsi's ouster and thousands detained by security forces. Secular activists are also in jail.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said last month 16 journalists were imprisoned in Egypt. The military-backed government in place since Morsi's ouster accuses the Brotherhood of turning to violence. The group denies that accusation.
Critics of the judiciary say it is a tool in a state crackdown against dissent. Courts have recently sentenced hundreds of the accused, often after brief hearings where scant evidence is offered by the prosecution, rights groups say