CAIRO — An Egyptian court confirmed death sentences Saturday for the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 182 supporters in a mass trial of Islamists who ruled Egypt for a year but face a fierce crackdown under the new president, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.
Mohammed Badie and other defendants were charged in connection with violence that erupted in the southern town of Minya following the ousting of the Brotherhood’s President Mohamed Morsi last July, led by then army chief Sissi. One police officer was killed.
The court’s decision came two months after it referred the case against Badie, general guide of the now outlawed Brotherhood, and 682 other defendants to a top religious authority, the first step toward imposing death penalties.
Those preliminary sentences triggered outrage among Western governments and rights groups, with the United States and European Union both saying they were appalled.
Since Morsi’s overthrow, which was followed by protests by his supporters, hundreds of Islamist protesters have been killed and thousands jailed. Five hundred army and police officers have also been killed.
Sissi, who won a presidential election last month, said in the run-up to the vote that the Brotherhood — Egypt’s oldest and best-organized political group — was finished and would not exist under his rule.
Amnesty International described the verdicts as “the latest example of the Egyptian judiciary’s bid to crush dissent.”
Out of a total 683 defendants, about 100 are in detention and the rest were tried in absentia. Four were jailed for life while 496 were acquitted, according to judiciary sources. All verdicts can be appealed.
The United States has said it would be unconscionable for Egypt to carry out mass death sentences against the Brotherhood and that Cairo’s actions would have consequences for resumption of suspended U.S. aid.
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to pay a brief visit to Egypt on Sunday, according to local Egyptian media reports.