Egypt sentences 52 Islamists to up to 10 years

egypt_flag_thumbAn Egyptian court sentenced 52 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to up to 10 years in jail Thursday over a protest in January 2014, a judiciary official said.

The verdict is the latest in a series of harsh sentences handed down to Morsi supporters who have been targeted in a relentless crackdown since the army ousted him in July, 2013.

A criminal court at Sohag in the Upper Egyptian province of Sohag, 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of Cairo, passed a 10-year sentence to 43 defendants, 24 of whom were tried in absentia, the official said.

They were convicted of “illegal assembly, resisting authorities, rioting and using violence” during a protest denouncing a constitutional referendum in January last year, the official added.

The court also sentenced three defendants to five years each and six others to three years in jail. Three more were acquitted.

Since Morsi’s ouster the crackdown on his supporters has left hundreds of people dead and thousands jailed.

Hundreds of his supporters have also been sentenced to death after speedy mass trials described by the UN as “unprecedented in recent history”.

Morsi was himself sentenced to death on May 16 for plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the uprising more than four years ago that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak.

That sentence was referred to the mufti, the government interpreter of Islamic law who plays an advisory role, and a final ruling is due on June 16.

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