World Bulletin/News Desk
An Egyptian court has recommended the death sentence for the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters, and handed down a final capital punishment ruling for 37 others, judicial sources said.
Seeking the death penalty for Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's general guide, is certain to raise tension in Egypt which has been gripped by turmoil since the army removed the Brotherhood from power last year.
The 37 death sentences were part of a final judgement on 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters who were sentenced to death last month. The remaining defendants were sentenced to life in jail.
Death sentence recommendations in the case involving Badie will be passed on to Egypt's Mufti, the highest religious authority. His opinion is not legally binding and can be ignored by the court.
The biggest trials in Egypt's modern history have reinforced fears among human rights groups that the military-backed government and anti-Islamist judges are bent on crushing dissent.
"The decisions are possibly the largest possible death sentences in recent world history. While they're exceptional in scale, they're certainly not exceptional in kind," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.
"It seems that these sentences are aimed at striking fear and terror into the hearts of those who oppose the interim government including the interim government."
The rulings can be appealed. Many defendants are on the run.
Policemen used teargas on Monday to disperse students at Al-Azhar University in eastern Cairo protesting against a decision by a court in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya to sentence 37 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to death.
Eyewitnesses said policemen deployed on the university campus fired teargas on the students as soon as they gathered for a march near the Faculty of Agriculture on the university's campus.
Confrontations then erupted between the protesting students and policemen on the campus.
Eyewitnesses said the students pelted policemen with stones and blocked the nearby Mustafa al-Nahas Street, disrupting traffic in the area.
Elsewhere, students also protested at Minya University in central Egypt against the rulings, before security forces used teargas to disperse the crowd, eyewitnesses said.
The residents of Dalga village in southern Minya also staged a march against the verdicts, eyewitnesses said.
The court set June 21 to issue its verdicts against the 683 defendants.
Egypt's army-backed authorities have launched a massive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since elected president Mohamed Morsi's ouster by the army last July.
In the eight months since, thousands of the groups' members and sympathizers have been arrested.
The first ever formal meeting is scheduled to be held in March
Arbitration law experts say monetary compensation to Turkey could be passed on to Turkish customers in lower gas bills
'The letter P doesn't exist in Arabic, so the borrowed term Palestine is worth debating' remarks draws mockery of Israeli lawmaker Anat Berko
Delegates from India and Oman have met to strengthen military ties
Iran holds annual celebrations commemorating its 1979 revolution for the first time since nuclear deal was finalized and sanctions lifted
Russia has proposed for a March 1 ceasefire talk as the Assad regime pounds the besieged city
Head of the Labour-led Zionist Union coalition said he still wants a two-state solution, bu does not believe it's achievable in present circumstances
A monitor reports on devastating deadly impact of Assad regime's offensive in the northern province
Russia's ambassador to Damascus shares his estimates on the number of Russian citizens living in Syria
Explosives, suicide belts have been found on suspects at Syria border
According to the Defense Intelligence Chief, the Russian support has given Assad a much better position to negotiate with world powers
Syrians recount how their life has changed under the brutal shelling of strikes in Aleppo
'2015 was by and large a decent year for news on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,' International Institute for Strategic Studies chief says
State-run television says a 'number of citizens' were killed and injured
'The fact that the Guardian Council added over 1,400 to the approved list shows the efficiency of the government's follow-ups and consultations,' interior ministry says
Two separate trials have been opened in UAE against 26 people in total over suspected links to Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah armed groups