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Egypt

Egypt confirms death sentences for 183, including Muslim Brotherhood leader Badie

An Egyptian court has confirmed death sentences against the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and almost 200 of his supporters. The majority of the 683 people originally sentenced to death were acquitted.

On Saturday, a court in the southern Egyptian city of Minya confirmed the death sentences imposed in a mass trial that was criticized internationally as being politically motivated.

Presiding judge Saeed Youssef upheld the original sentences on Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 182 others.

The court had initially sentenced 683 people to death in April over violence that erupted in Minya following the ouster of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi. All but 110 of the condemned were tried in absentia.

In the latest hearing, the court acquitted 496 defendants and commuted the death sentences of four people, including two women, to life.

The Grand Mufti decides

The case stemmed from retaliatory attacks on a police station in the city after hundreds were killed when authorities dispersed an Islamist sit-in in Cairo. The sentences will now be sent to Egypt's main Islamic legal authority, the Grand Mufti.

At the time of the national uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood was Egypt's best-organized political force.

Morsi was removed from office by the Egyptian army last July, and a subsequent crackdown on the Brotherhood followed in which at least 1,400 people died in street clashes. More than 15,000 were arrested, including secular activists who protested that the new military-backed regime was acting undemocratically.

On Thursday, a separate court handed a second death sentence to Badie and 13 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders over violence in the city of Giza, near Cairo, which also followed the toppling of Morsi.

rc/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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