Egypt condemns 75 to death for pro-Morsi protests in 2013

<pre><pre>Egypt condemns 75 to death for pro-Morsi protests in 2013

An Egyptian court confirmed on Saturday death sentences against 75 people, in one of the largest mass trials since the 2011 uprising, and awarded a five-year prison sentence to an award-winning photojournalist.

Amnesty International said the sentences, linked to clashes in 2013 between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, amounted to "a mockery of justice."

Photojournalist Shawkan seen in the cage after hearing the verdict.

AAP

Photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid was among the 739 defendants on trial, most of them accused of killing the police and destroying property.

The journalist, widely known as Shawkan, was arrested while covering the clashes that turned into a bloodbath in which hundreds of protesters were killed.

The court also confirmed the death sentences initially handed down in July against 75 defendants, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood outside Morsi law, such as Mohamed el-Baltagui, Issam al-Aryan and Safwat Hijazi.

Of the 75 defendants facing the death penalty, 44 were on the defendants' bench while the rest were tried in absentia.

Forty-seven were sentenced to life imprisonment, while 347 received 15 years in prison and 22 minors received sentences of 10 years.

The court sentenced Morsi's son, Ossama, to 10 years in prison, while 215 people were sentenced to five years in prison.

A 2013 demonstration in support of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

A 2013 demonstration in support of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi.

AAP

& # 39; Massive shameful trial & # 39;

In a statement, Amnesty condemned Saturday's death sentences and strong prison terms after what he called a "shameful mass trial."

The rights control body requested a new trial before an "impartial tribunal".

He said the verdicts were "a mockery of justice," since "not a single police officer has been brought to justice."

Shawkan, who earlier this year received the UNESCO Freedom of the World Award, is expected to be released in a matter of days due to the time served, his lawyer said.

He was accused of "murder and membership in a terrorist organization", charges that may carry the death penalty, but he has already spent five years in prison.

Smiling on the bench, the photojournalist made a "V" as a sign of victory, while his lawyer, Karim Abdelrady, said he would launch a legal offer to annul the conviction.

His arrest sparked outrage among human rights groups and NGOs that lobbied continuously for his release.

A photo of Shawkan, behind the bars with his hands in front of his face imitating the holding of a camera, has circulated widely on social networks.

Amnesty said he had been convicted "simply for doing his job as a photojournalist and documenting the police brutality that took place that day."

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) places Egypt in 161 out of 180 countries in its press freedom index and says that at least 31 journalists are currently detained in the most populous nation in the Arab world.

Approximately 700 murdered

On August 14, 2013, one of the bloodiest days in Egypt's modern history, one month after the army toppled Morsi, the police moved to disperse an extensive Islamist protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo.

Nearly 700 people were killed in a matter of hours at that site and in Nahda Square, where another sit-in was being held.

Hundreds more died in street clashes with the police during the following months and mass arrests were made.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch say that at least 40,000 people were arrested in the first year after the overthrow of Morsi on July 3, 2013.

Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of them to death or long prison terms after other rapid mass trials, including Morsi and several leaders of his Brotherhood movement.

Former head of the armed forces Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won the presidency in 2014 after leading the overthrow of Morsi following mass protests against the Islamist regime.

Sisi won re-election with 97 percent in a vote in March against a single opponent seen as a symbolic rival, and critics said the president had carried out a widespread offensive against dissent.