World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was unfazed on Monday by a court decision to refer him to the mufti for a possible death sentence.
"Even if they execute me 1000 times, I will never back down," Badie said during his espionage trial in Cairo, according to his son-in-law Ahmed.
"We were not lying when we said that we are ready to sacrifice our lives for what we believe in," Ahmed quoted the top Brotherhood leader as saying.
A court in the central province of Minya sentenced 37 Morsi supporters to death and handed 491 others life sentences on violence charges.
It also referred 683 other defendants, including Badie, to the mufti, Egypt's top religious official, to consider possible death sentences against them.
All 1,211 defendants are tried on charges of attacking police stations and involvement in acts of violence in Minya.
Shortly after the court hearing, Beni Sueif University President Amin Lotfi decided they had decided to sack Badie from his post as a university professor.
Egypt's army-backed authorities have launched a massive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since the army ousted elected President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, last July.
In the eight months since, thousands of the groups' members and sympathizers have been arrested and convicted of multiple charges.
A number of activists who were sentenced to death in the trial have vowed to continue their struggle against what they describe as the "military coup" in Egypt.
"These verdicts are valueless," said Gamal Sayed, who along with 682 defendants was referred by a court in the central Minya province to the mufti to consider possible death sentences against them.
Sayed denied the charges against him, insisting that he was not in Minya when the violence took place.
The defiant anti-coup activist, who was tried in absentia and spoke to Anadolu Agency from an undisclosed location, said that he would continue to join "anti-coup" activities in Egypt until "legitimacy is restored".
Rida Mohamed, another defendant in the same case, described the verdicts as "absurd".
"These are politicized verdicts," Mohamed told AA also from an undisclosed location, going on to describe the rulings as a brazen violation of law.
"This has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood," Mohamed said. "It targets those who oppose the coup and the counter revolution."
Mohamed said that the verdicts "prove that the current regime seeks to take revenge from whoever opposes authorities or defends president Morsi".
Mohamed Abdel-Hamid, another condemned defendant, denied the alleged violence charges against him.
"God only knows that we have nothing to do with this crime," Abdel-Hamid told AA.
"Our names were only included in the case on the background of political, not criminal, disputes," he added.
BROTHERHOOD SLAMS VERDICTS
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on Monday condemned mass death sentences handed down against supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
"Such verdicts will not breathe fear and panic into revolutionary people," the Brotherhood said in a statement.
"This is a new episode in the genocide being committed against the peaceful revolutionary people, who will not stop until they regain their freedom," It added.
The Brotherhood said that the death sentences "reflect that corruption has reached the Egyptian Judiciary and augur ill for the future of the country".
Egypt's army-backed authorities have launched a massive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi's ouster by the army last July.
In the nine months since, thousands of the groups' members and sympathizers have been arrested and convicted of multiple charges.
The White House said it was "deeply troubled" by the ruling.
"Today's verdict, like the one last month, defies even the most basic standards of international justice," it said in a statement. Secretary of State John Kerry would raise U.S. concerns in a meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister on Tuesday, Kerry's spokeswoman said.
The Obama administration said last week that it would partly resume military aid to Egypt, six months after cutting off the assistance in the wake of Mursi's ouster. The administration is delivering 10 Apache helicopters to Cairo and has notified Congress of its intention to send $650 million in aid for weapons systems used for border security, counterterrorism, anti-smuggling and non-proliferation.
Some U.S. lawmakers said they were closely reviewing the decision to send Egypt the money, saying they wanted to know for certain who would use the money - and how.
"I want to find out, are they going to have a legitimate election? I'm not going to invest in a country that's in a state of anarchy," U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, told Reuters.
Responding to the critical U.S. comments, the Egyptian Embassy in Washington said the cases "are unfolding under an independent judiciary, a core foundation of all democracies.
"The Executive branch therefore cannot intervene in this judicial process or otherwise undermine its independence," the embassy statement said. "These decisions are only a first step in a legal process involving different stages for appeal. Egypt's prosecutor general has initiated the procedures necessary to appeal these decisions."
Mass trials in the biggest Arab state have reinforced fears among human rights groups that the government and anti-Islamist judges are using all levers of power to crush opponents.
"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."
"In a month, Egypt sentences more people to death than the rest of the world combined. It is not the kind of news to rekindle confidence," Angus Blair, chairman of business and economic forecasting think-tank Signet, wrote on Twitter.Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2014, 11:35