Five of the 11 people sentenced by the court in the southern city of Minya were tried in absentia
CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Saturday convicted and sentenced 11 alleged supporters of the country’s ousted president to up to 88 years in prison on charges that include violating a protest law and assaulting police, reports AP.
The case comes amid a sweeping crackdown by Egypt’s military-backed government against the Muslim Brotherhood.
Authorities have killed hundreds of Islamists and arrested some 16,000 others since the army removed President Mohammed Mursi, a Brotherhood leader, from office last July.
Five of the 11 people sentenced on Saturday by the court in the southern city of Minya were tried in absentia. The charges against all of the defendants were linked to demonstrations in the town of Samallout to protest the violent dispersal by security forces of two weeks-long pro-Mursi sit-ins that killed hundreds and wounded thousands.
The presiding judge on Saturday was the same one who issued death sentences against nearly 530 suspects in mass trial in March. The ruling stunned rights groups, and drew condemnation from abroad.
In Cairo, meanwhile, hundreds of secular-minded activists and protesters rallied in front of the presidential palace, demanding the interim president abolish a disputed protest law used extensively over the past months to jail and prosecute activists, including leading figures of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The law issued in November bans all political gatherings and protests without prior permission from police. Violators are punished by heavy fines or jail. Rights groups have sharply criticised the law, calling it draconian.
While marching toward the palace on Saturday, some of the protesters chanted “Freedom” and “Abolish the law, get them out of prison.” Others carried pictures of jailed activists. A few in the crowd tore down posters for the former military chief Abdel-Fattah Al Sisi, who is now the front-runner in next month’s presidential elections.