News / Middle East

Egypt Sentences 683 to Death

Egyptian women weep after a judge sentenced to death more than 680 alleged supporters of the country’s ousted president over acts of violence and the murder of a policeman in the latest mass trial in the southern city of Minya, Egypt,  April 28, 2014.
Egyptian women weep after a judge sentenced to death more than 680 alleged supporters of the country’s ousted president over acts of violence and the murder of a policeman in the latest mass trial in the southern city of Minya, Egypt, April 28, 2014.
Elizabeth Arrott
An Egyptian court has recommended the death sentence to 683 men, including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie.  It is the second mass sentencing related to the violent aftermath of President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster last year.  A separate court Monday also banned a key secular opposition group in a continuing crackdown on government critics.
Relatives outside the courthouse in Minya, south of Cairo, fainted on hearing the news.  Others railed against the sentencing and protested the defendants’ innocence.

The judge’s recommendation is not final.  Also Monday, the same court commuted the death sentences in a related case, with 492 of 529 men now facing 25 years to life in prison.  The death penalty for 37 men was upheld.

Both cases involved the killing of a policeman in protests and rioting last year that followed the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood figure President Morsi.
Human rights groups and Western governments condemned both trials, hasty affairs in which the defendants’ lawyers say they were not allowed to present their cases.

Speaking outside the courthouse, defense lawyer Mohamed Abdel Wehab said the right to a defense was breached, noting that normally a murder case takes one or two years, but this one finished after the first session.

Critics say Egypt’s judiciary has come increasingly under the sway of the military-backed government and presidential candidate, former defense minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

Veteran diplomat and political analyst Abdallah al Ashaal says Sissi could pursue one of two paths against the Muslim Brotherhood following his widely expected election victory next month.

“Either he is coming to eradicate [the Brotherhood] totally, especially because so many partners are depending on Sissi to do that, inside and outside Egypt," he speculated. " [Or] secondly, they are making that sort of exaggeration so as Sissi comes and becomes the hero, as he attacked the Muslim Brotherhood, he is now giving amnesty for all.”

The idea of a possible future reconciliation between the government and its opponents seemed even more elusive when a separate court Monday banned a key secular, pro-democracy group.

State media say the April 6th Movement, instrumental in the 2011 uprising that deposed long-time President Hosni Mubarak, has tarnished the image of the state.  The court ordered a confiscation of the group’s headquarters and declared all its activities illegal.  One of the group’s leaders, Ahmed Maher, has already been sentenced to three years in prison for protesting without a permit.

Leftist political activist Wael Khalil says he does not believe the court has any evidence against the April 6th Movement, which has operated legally and openly for years.

“I think it is a political verdict and this is the worrying thing that any judge can rule whatever he feels like without any regard for the law," Khalil said. " Is it a sentence organized by or instigated by the regime?  I really do not know.  The current legal system is working in such an erratic manner it is really hard to assess what in God’s sake they are doing.”

The Egyptian government has dismissed criticism of the crackdown on opponents, arguing strict measures are needed to ensure stability.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of people, many Morsi supporters, but also security force members have been killed since Morsi’s ouster.  

Thousands more are in prison.  The former president is also on trial in several cases and if convicted, could face the death penalty.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy is visiting the United States in an attempt to improve ties strained by the turmoil and growing anti-Americanism.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
April 30, 2014 9:05 AM
Removing a corrupt elected president isn't a crime cos there are proves that the former ruler was leading Egypt astray but it is barbaric to sentence 683 human beings to death. These people thought they were fighting injustice in there country, they should be sensitised and not killing them. Killing this people is a sign of weakness on the path of the ruling party ( military ) in Egypt.

by: Kundai from: Zimbabwe
April 29, 2014 1:54 AM
I think the current Pharaoh is worse than the ancient. To remove an elected government and replace it with a military one is subversion of justice. If it was wrong for Egyptians to have placed the Muslin Brotherhood, the must pay the price and endure the full term of office. Now in everyone s eyes, a coup de tat has taken place. Our sympathy is with Brotherhood. Egypt can not move forward when elected leader have no right to their term of office.
A long time ago an ancient king pursued his subjects terribly with an iron fist and chariots on horses. Over the mountains, deep in the valleys he cornered them. With a determination which knew no obstacle, they crossed the Red sea. An act of great deliverance. A Godly miracle. Throwing all caution to the wind the king, followed into the water!
There now remains a watery tomb. In his place in the desert sands a grave is empty. A missing pharaoh. A sign of blind determination to extinct a people. NEVER think history can not repeat self. Kundai

by: Nazarene from: USA
April 28, 2014 6:39 PM
we only wish that Israel had such courage... the courage to sentence to death terrorists... But NO... Israel is far too Liberal... well, now that Fatah is instigating attacks on Israel from the "West Bank" in coordination with Hamas... the hope is that Israel will shed the kid gloves... and bare the iron fist...
Obama has proved himself to be a useless fool... Kerry is a universal joke... so, Israel must take matters into its own hands...

by: mike from: colorado
April 28, 2014 3:23 PM
It's an unfortunate fact that in the U.S. voters must choose between the lesser of two evils every four years, but at least we don't have to choose between military fascism and Islamic fanaticism. Why can't they seem to get it right? Is it possible some places, like Egypt and Iraq, simply can't function without an iron fist?

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
April 28, 2014 2:19 PM
Good riddance, brave judgment. Egypt must continue like this until all the bad elements have been wiped out of the country. The survival of Egypt is the survival of Africa and brings peace in the Middle East.

by: ali baba from: new york
April 28, 2014 10:49 AM
the justice has been served. the death penalty for Muslim brotherhood is correct. they did crimes and thy have to judge according to their crime

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs