Egypt: Call for downfall of military rule

2014-03-24 13:48
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. (AFP)

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death for murder and other offences on Monday, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the movement that is likely to fuel instability.

Family members stood outside the courthouse screaming after the verdict - the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt's modern history, defence lawyers said. Supporters set fire to a nearby school in protest, state television reported.

Turmoil has deepened since the army overthrew Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July. Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood members in the streets and arrested thousands.

Most of the defendants at Monday's hearing were detained during clashes which erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on 14 August.

Islamist militants have also stepped up attacks on the police and army since Morsi’s ouster, killing hundreds and carrying out high profile operations against senior interior ministry officials.

"The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants, and 16 were acquitted," defence lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif told Reuters. The condemned men can appeal against the ruling.

State television reported the sentences without comment. A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to calls.

"The quickest case"

The Muslim Brotherhood, largely driven underground, responded by calling for the "downfall of military rule" on its official website.

Mohamed Mahsoub, who served as minister of legal affairs under Morsi, described the court's decision "a ruling calling for the execution of justice" on his Facebook page.

The sentences came days before army chief Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was expected to declare his candidacy in presidential elections. He is widely expected to win.

The charges against the group, on trial in Minya since Saturday, include violence, inciting murder, storming a police station, attacking persons and damaging public and private property.

"This is the quickest case and the number sentenced to death is the largest in the history of the judiciary," said lawyer Nabil Abdel Salam, who defends some Brotherhood leaders including Morsi.

The verdict was sent to the grand mufti, Egypt's highest religious authority, for consideration, a judicial source said. The mufti's opinion is not binding.

HA Hellyer, an Egypt expert and fellow at American think-tank the Brookings Institution, said he doubted the sentences would be carried out.

"Nevertheless, the very issuing of the sentence itself is quite significant," he added.


Only 123 of the defendants were in court. The rest were either released, out on bail or on the run.

"When the trial starts on Saturday and it is just a procedural hearing, and the judge doesn't listen to any lawyers or witnesses and doesn't even call the defendants, you are before a group of thugs and not the judiciary," Walid, a relative of one of the defendants, said by phone.

It was not possible to confirm his account of the proceedings independently.

The government has declared the Brotherhood a "terrorist" group. The organisation says it is committed to peaceful activism.

Analysts say some of its members could turn violent if the state keeps up pressure on the movement, which won the vast majority of elections since an army-backed popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Egyptian authorities make no distinction between the Brotherhood and hardcore militant groups based in the Sinai peninsula who pose a major security challenge to the state despite army offensives against their fighters.

Morsi and other top Brotherhood leaders, who are on trial on a range of charges, accuse the military of staging a coup and undermining democracy.

The army says it was acting on behalf of the Egyptian people, who took to the streets in their millions to call for Morsi’s resignation.
Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  egypt  |  north africa  |  egypt crisis

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.