(Reuters) - An
Egyptian court sentenced 183 supporters of the outlawed Muslim
Brotherhood to death on Monday on charges of killing police officers,
part of a sustained crackdown by authorities on Islamists.
The men were convicted of
playing a role in the killings of 16 policemen in the town of Kardasa in
August 2013 during the upheaval that followed the army's ouster of
Islamist president Mohamed Mursi. Thirty-four of them were sentenced in
Egypt has mounted one of
the biggest crackdowns in its modern history on the Brotherhood since
the political demise of Mursi, the country's first
of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested and put on mass trials in a
campaign which human rights groups say shows the government is
systematically repressing opponents.
death sentences are yet another example of the bias of the Egyptian
criminal justice system," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East
and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
verdicts and sentences must be quashed and all of those convicted
should be given a trial that meets international standards of fairness
and excludes the death penalty."
sentences came a day after Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was freed
after serving 400 days in Egyptian jail on charges that included aiding
a terrorist group -- a reference to the Brotherhood. Two of his Al
Jazeera colleagues remain jailed.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat.
The movement says it is committed to peaceful activism.
death sentences followed one of the bloodiest attacks on Egyptian
security forces in years.
Islamic State's Egypt wing claimed
responsibility for a series of coordinated operations that killed at
least 27 people last week.
blamed the Brotherhood for the violence and told Egyptians in a
televised address that the fight against militants would be long and
Egyptian authorities make
no distinction between the Brotherhood, Islamic State and al Qaeda,
arguing that they have a shared ideology and are equally dangerous.
JUDGES' CLUB TARGETED
bomb exploded on Monday night by the gates of the judges' club in
Egypt's second biggest city Alexandria, a police official said. The
blast caused extensive property damage. There was no immediate claim of
While Islamist militants frequently target members of Egypt's security forces, attacks on judges are rare.
Security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and arrested thousands of others after Mursi's ouster.
the death sentences were read out on Monday, Brotherhood supporters
held in metal cages shouted profanities at policemen. A defence lawyer
looked at the Islamists and said "You have God."
Egyptian government's human rights record has come under closer
scrutiny since woman activist Shaimaa Sabbagh was shot dead during a
Cairo protest on January 24, a day before the anniversary of the 2011
uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
The Interior Ministry promised an investigation.
an Egyptian police officer has been detained on suspicion of killing a
suspected member of the Brotherhood in hospital, the Interior Ministry
The suspect was being
treated in custody for wounds suffered while he was allegedly planting
explosives. The ministry said the man had provoked the policeman by
insulting him. "Then the policeman lost control of his feelings," it
*Additional reporting by Maggie Fick; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Dominic Evans and Gareth Jones