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Egypt seeks death penalty for Muslim Brotherhood leader

An Egyptian court has condemned Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie and 13 other people to death for planning attacks on police and army institutions that were "aimed at sowing chaos."

The group was accused of creating an "operations room" to organize strikes against the state after the army ousted former President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

Mahmud Ghazlan, a former spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as former provincial governors and other senior members of the organization were among those convicted, according to the Egyptian MENA news agency.

Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and other top officials were found guilty of "plotting attacks aimed at sowing chaos," the agency said.

Although Giza Criminal Court published its decision on Monday, the formal ruling is set to be issued on April 11, after the country's grand mufti gives his opinion on the death sentence.

The mufti is consulted on all death penalty cases in Egypt, although his decision is not binding.

'Farcical' verdicts

Defense lawyer Ahmad Helmi called the verdicts "farcical" in an interview with AFP news agency.

Helmi said the verdicts were handed down even though the defense had not finished its closing arguments concerning five of the defendants.

In a separate case, a court in the northern city of Mansura also sentenced another eight Muslim Brotherhood members to death for organizing a "terror cell" and murdering their opponents, according to MENA. Their verdicts were also referred to the grand mufti.

Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters killed

After the regime change in 2013, authorities initiated a bloody crackdown against the Brotherhood and their supporters, jailing thousands. Hundreds of people lost their lives in clashes with security forces. The Muslim Brotherhood itself was declared a "terrorist organization" and outlawed.

Badie has already been sentenced to four life terms in separate cases, and was even convicted to death for incitement for violence, but the death sentence has since been overturned. Former president Morsi is also facing charges that are punishable by death.

dj/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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