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Egyptian Court Holds Second Mass Trial of Brotherhood Members

The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and nearly 700 members of the group went on trial Tuesday on charges including murder and inciting violence.

A lawyer said after just a few hours the trial of Mohamed Badie and the others was adjourned until April 28, when judgment and sentencing is expected.

Defense lawyers boycotted Tuesday's session of the trial to protest the verdicts issued Monday by the same court in the city of Minya. That court sentenced 529 Brotherhood members to death on charges of murdering a police officer, attacking a police station and other acts of violence.

The first trial took just two days, drawing international criticism over whether the proceedings were fair.



In Geneva, a U.N. official said a mass trial of 529 people conducted over two days could not have met the most basic requirements for a fair proceeding. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Coville said the trial was "rife with procedural irregularities" and "in breach of international human rights law."

University of California at Berkeley Associate Professor of Anthropology Saba Mahmoud told VOA there is no due process in Egypt, and called the sentencing "ridiculous."



"You can take even perhaps elements from that crowd who may have broken the law and so on, but to actually sentence close to 530 people, 529 to be precise, nowhere can be defended legally. Most of the people who have been arrested are being tried in military courts and security courts under the emergency law in the country. They are not being given a fair trial."



Mahmoud also said the Egyptian military's violations of civil liberties have not pushed the U.S. government to say such behavior must stop or else it will withdraw aid.



"I think the State Department reaction throughout this process has been completely muted. We must remember that Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. military and socioeconomic aid after Israel, in the region. And the United States has an enormous influence in how Egyptian politics is conducted. Ever since the overthrow of the Morsi government, the writing has been on the wall."



The charges in the two trials are related to clashes in Minya last August. That violence erupted after security forces in Cairo broke up two Brotherhood protest camps, leaving hundreds of people dead.

They were protesting the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member who has been in custody since he was removed from office in July and is facing several trials himself.

Egypt's interim authorities have cracked down on the Brotherhood, labeling it a terrorist group and arresting many of its leaders.

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