Egypt rejects criticism of Brotherhood mass death sentences
Egypt has voiced rejection of criticism of recent mass death sentences against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, terming it "unacceptable interference in the judiciary affairs."
"We reaffirm the independency of the Egyptian judiciary and reject any interference from anybody, whether it is a country or an organization," Justice Minister Nayer Osman said in a press conference Wednesday.
Minya Criminal Court on Monday sentenced 683 Brotherhood supporters, including the group's top leader Mohamed Badie, to death over assaulting and murdering policemen in Minya province last year.
The same court sentenced 37 Brotherhood members and supporters to death and ordered life imprisonment of 492 others in a similar case in the Upper Egyptian province.
"There are legal ways to appeal these verdicts, and the judge is a human being who may make an unintentional mistake," the minister explained, reaffirming that the death sentences are not final and that all defendants were being tried "before an ordinary court by a natural judge, not by an extraordinary court."
The Egyptian justice minister also clarified that 608 of the defendants whose papers were referred to the Mufti to confirm their death sentences were tried "in absentia," and they have the right to defend themselves when they show up as the court would re- start their trial.
The mass death sentences, which sparked domestic and international human rights concerns, were related to violent incidents that took place following the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by the military last July.
Last August, the security forces used excessive force to disband two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza, leaving about 1,000 dead while thousands others have been arrested.
In response, furious supporters of the deposed president staged anti-police rallies across the country that extended to storming police stations in several provinces including Minya.
Last December, the Brotherhood group, from which Morsi hailed, was blacklisted by the interim-government as "a terrorist organization."