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Egyptian appeals court overturns death sentences for 149 pro-Islamists

Egypt's highest appeals court has overturned the death sentences given to 149 people for storming a police station in 2013. The Kerdasa case was one of several mass death sentences issued in recent years.

Egypt's highest appeals court has ordered a retrial in the case of 149 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood who were sentenced to death for storming the police station in Kerdasa, on the outskirts of Cairo near the pyramids at Giza, in August 2013. Eleven police officers and two civilians were killed.

The Court of Cassation accepted appeals by defendants on Wednesday and ordered a retrial for 149 of them. The new trial will be held in a criminal court and the defendants will have the right to appeal the verdict at the high court.

A total of 183 people were sentenced to death in February 2015 for their roles in the Kerdasa attacks. Thirty-four of the defendants were sentenced in absentia. They would have to surrender to the authorities to be granted a retrial.

The attack on the police station came shortly after Egyptian army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coalition to

oust the elected government of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi

in early July. It happened the same day that Egyptian security forces broke up protest camps in Cairo and hundreds of Morsi supporters were reported to have been killed. El-Sisi went on to become president of Egypt after ousting Morsi.

The Kerdasa case was just one in which mass death sentences trials have been widely criticized by human rights groups and the United Nations.

Two hour shoot out

Also on Wednesday there was a two-hour shoot-out in a wealthy suburb of Cairo. Two alleged militants were killed during a raid on an apartment in the Maadi district. Police said they had found explosive devices and guns in the apartment.

There have been a series of attacks, usually targeting police and army posts, since Morsi was deposed in 2013. More than a thousand people are believed to have been killed and 40,000 jailed in a crackdown on opponents to the current regime in Egypt.

jm/sms (AP, dpa)

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