CAIRO (Reuters) – The head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other leaders of the banned group were sentenced to life in prison on Sunday, judicial sources said, on charges of incitement to murder and violence during protests five years ago.
The sentence is the latest among several trials and re-trials against Mohamed Badie and other senior leaders of the party that ruled Egypt before the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi following mass protests.
The sources told Reuters that Giza Criminal Court sentenced several top leaders including Badie, group spokesman Essam al-Erian, and senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy to life terms.
State news agency MENA said another defendant was jailed for 15 years and three others for 10 years.
Badie and the other defendants were convicted of incitement to violence on July 15, 2013, including the killing of five demonstrators and wounding of 100 during protests in an area in Giza known as al-Bahr al-Azim.
The court had previously sentenced 15 people to life imprisonment in the al-Bahr al-Azim case in September 2014 but an appeals hearing had subsequently struck down the ruling and ordered a retrial.
Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014, authorities have justified a crackdown on dissent and freedoms as being directed at terrorists and saboteurs trying to undermine the state.
Last month, a court referred the files of Badie and other Brotherhood leaders in a separate case to Egypt’s most senior Muslim religious authority, the Mufti, for his opinion on whether they should be sentenced to death.
This case related to a 2013 sit-in that ended in the deaths of hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and dozens of police when security forces broke it up violently.
Egyptian law requires any capital sentence to be referred to Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam for an opinion before executions can take place. His opinion has yet to be announced.
Death sentences have been handed down to hundreds of his political opponents on charges such as belonging to an illegal organization or planning to carry out an attack. Mursi, who was ousted in 2013 after a year in office, is serving a life-sentence in jail.
(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Haitham Ahmed, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by David Stamp)