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Egypt’s unprecedented execution verdicts

Egypt's 529 death sentences are likely to further radicalize and polarize Egypt.
Ousted former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi (2nd R) stands with other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood in a cage in a courthouse on the first day of his trial, in Cairo, November 4, 2013. Ousted Egyptian leader Mursi, given his first public forum since his overthrow, in a trial where he could face execution, declared on Monday he was still Egypt's legitimate president and shouted: "Down with military rule!" It was the first public sighting of Mursi since he was ousted by the army on July 3 after

CAIRO — In a shocking verdict, both by Egyptian and international standards, Al-Minya Seventh District Judge Saeed Youssef sentenced 529 defendants to the death sentence, while freeing 17 others.

Those convicted will now have their sentences reviewed by the mufti, as is the law, in order for him to sign off on the executions or stay them. The defendants were accused of burning the Matay police station, killing a police officer and attempting to kill two others, seizing police weaponry and disrupting public order in the immediate aftermath of the dispersal of the Rab’aa sit-in in August 2013. Given that this is a first-level verdict and that most defendants were tried in absentia, the general understanding is that this verdict is anything but a done deal, while the final verdict is expected on April 28. Tomorrow, March 25, more than 600 defendants, including Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, will stand trial on similar charges. Monday’s verdict is seen by many as a precursor to what's expected in the latter trial as well.

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