Egypt news: High court sentences 75 people to DEATH and jails 600 over 2013 Cairo massacre | World | News

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The sentences were handed down at a hearing at the country’s vast Tora prison complex in the south of Cairo.

It concluded the mass trial of nearly 700 people accused of various offences – including murder and inciting violence – during a pro-Muslim Brotherhood protest on Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo on August 14, 2013.

The government claimed protestors were armed and claimed eight security force officers were killed.

Previously, the Egyptian government had claimed that nearly 40 police had died, although this figure was not proved.

The criminal court sentenced several prominent Islamists to death by hanging.

Those receiving the death penalty included senior Brotherhood leaders Essam al-Erian and Mohamed Beltagi, as well as preacher Safwat Higazi.

Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie and dozens more were given life sentences, judicial sources said.

Others received jail sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

But, several cases were dropped against five people who had died while in prison. But judicial sources declined to give further details.

On Saturday, after the sentences were handed out Amnesty International condemned the court’s trial “disgraceful”, for imprisoning peaceful protestors and journalists.

These included award-winning photographer Mahmoud Abu Zeid, who was covering the protests but was charged with belonging to a banned group and possessing firearms.

Abu Zaid was sentenced to five years in jail, but would soon be released because his five years in detention during the trial are counted towards the sentence.

The charity said in a statement: “We condemn today’s verdict in the strongest terms. The fact that not a single police officer has been brought to account … shows what a mockery of justice this trial was.”

Following weeks of protests in 2013 against the ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi by the military — led at the time by Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — security forces violently broke up the demonstrators at Rabaa square.

They arrested hundreds of people who were charged with inciting murder, violence and organising “illegal” protests. The violence has been deemed the bloodiest incident to take place in the African country since Egypt’s 2011 spring uprising.

Since Sisi was elected president in 2014, authorities have justified a crackdown on dissident groups and freedoms as being directed at militants and saboteurs trying to undermine the state.

Critics say the erosion of freedoms and silencing of political opponents is the worst Egypt has seen in its modern history.

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