World Bulletin/News Desk
A Cairo court sentenced a police officer to 10 years in prison with labour on Tuesday in connection with the deaths of 37 pro-Morsi protesters last year, judicial sources said, one of the most controversial incidents since an army takeover last July.
Three other policemen were given one-year suspended sentences, they said.
However, a legal source said the men had died from asphyxiation in the back of a crammed police van while they were being moved to a jail on the outskirts of Cairo.
The government has launched a widespread crackdown on the Brotherhood since the army toppled president Mohamed Mursi last July.
The movement has accused the authorities of large-scale human rights abuses. The government has denied the allegations and declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group which poses a grave security threat to the most populous Arab nation.
Anti-coup protesters loyal to Mursi said on Tuesday that Egyptian security forces prevented them holding a news conference about the deaths of hundreds of Brotherhood members last year.
A pro-Mursi alliance said on its Facebook page that police stormed a building where they were due to respond to a government-appointed panel on the deaths at a Cairo protest camp. Reuters witnesses said police vans surounded the area.
An Interior Ministry official said authorities had no immediate comment on the incident. A security source said two people were briefly detained on suspicion of membership in the outlawed Brotherood.
The panel said this month that the deaths of hundreds of Brotherhood supporters at a protest camp in Cairo last August was mostly the fault of demonstrators who had provoked the security forces into opening fire.
The findings mainly echoed the military-backed government's version of events. But in an unexpected move, the panel also placed some responsibility for the bloodshed on the security forces and said they had used disproptionate force.
Human rights activists accuse the judiciary of double standards, imposing stiff penalties on anti-coup protesters while taking a softer view of crimes committed by security forces.
The court sentenced Lieutenant Colonel Amr Farouk, deputy head of Heliopolis police station, to 10 years in jail with labour and three other policemen to one year suspended sentences on charges of involuntary manslaughter and extreme negligence.
"We are suffering from a lopsided judicial system that reverted to the most lenient punishment because the accused person was a policeman," said lawyer and human rights activist Gamal Eid.
"I see the crime as premeditated murder and not involunatry manslaughter."
Security forces have killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members in the streets, arrested thousands of others and put top leaders on trial since army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed the country's first freely-elected government.
The Brotherhood, which has an estimated 800,000 members, has gone underground but is unlikely to go away after surviving repression under one Egyptian autocrat after another.
Although neither side is showing flexibility just now, political analysts say reconciliation may be the only way to bring stability to Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the Suez Canal, a vital global shipping lane.
The Interior Ministry, which was dreaded under the rule of president Hosni Mubarak, has put itself squarely back in the centre of power after a period of relative uncertainty after he was toppled in an army-backed popular uprising in 2011.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE's state minister for foreign affairs, issued the warning more than two weeks into the oil-rich region's worst crisis in years.
State of emergency was initially declared following April’s deadly twin church attacks
Six Kalibr cruise missiles were fired from eastern Mediterranean, says defense ministry
Turkey has quality human resources, outstanding capabilities, high-class products, says Kuwaiti minister
Activist is vocal opponent of controversial border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia
Ship dispatched by Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) carries 10,000 tons of supplies to blockaded enclave
U.S. Statement Department questioned motives of Gulf allies for their blockade on Qatar
Signaling Washington's mounting frustration at Riyadh's role in the crisis, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called into question whether Qatar's alleged support for terrorism is its true cause.
Arrests come two weeks after terrorist group claims responsibility for deadly twin attacks in Tehran
Transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi sovereignty would make Riyadh party to 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement, MP says
Javad Zarif is slated to meet Mauritanian president, foreign minister to discuss bilateral ties, regional developments
Three small boats entered Saudi territorial waters at about 8:30 pm on Friday and "headed at speed towards platforms of (the) Saudi oil field of Marjan", a government statement said.
The soldiers, part of the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) which is headquartered in Bahrain, had been asked to leave the coalition and may depart within the next 48 hours, the source told AFP.
Syrian jet dropped bombs near U.S. partners forces, anti-ISIL coalition says
Strikes come after last week's deadly attacks in Tehran were claimed by terror network