Crackdown: Egypt sentences 183 Brotherhood activists to death

03 Feb 2015


A court in Egypt sentenced as many as 183 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday on charges of killing police officers, which is seen as a part of a sustained crackdown by authorities on Islamists who previously ruled the country.

The men were convicted for being involved in the killing 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. Over 30 of them were sentenced in absentia.

Egypt has mounted perhaps its biggest crackdowns on the Brotherhood since the political demise of Mursi, the country`s first democratically-elected president.

Thousands 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.

Monday`s sentences came a day after Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was freed after serving 400 days in an 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. But the Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism.

The death sentences followed one of the bloodiest attacks on Egyptian security forces in years. The now-notorious Islamic State`s Egypt wing claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated operations that killed at least 27 people last week.

Al-Sisi blamed the Brotherhood for the violence and told Egyptians in a televised address that the fight against militants would be long and tough.

Egyptian authorities make no distinction between the Brotherhood, Islamic State and al Qaeda, arguing that they have a shared ideology and are equally dangerous.

A 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 responsibility.

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.

After 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."

The Egyptian government`s human rights record has come under closer scrutiny since woman activist Shaimaa Sabbagh was shot dead during a Cairo protest on 24 January, a day before the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.


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