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136 Egyptians jailed, 68 released over violence charges
Egyptian courts handed on Wednesday 126 citizens various sentences, acquitted 13 and released 68 over violence and terrorism charges.
Giza Criminal Court sentenced 71 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group to life in prison over attempted murder and church burning in 2013. It also sentenced two juveniles to 10 years in prison in the same case, official MENA news agency reported.
The case dates back to August, 2013, as throngs of MB loyalists stormed public properties and police stations in reaction to security dispersal of Islamist sit-ins in Cairo and Giza that left about 1,000 of them killed and thousands more arrested.
The sit-ins were organized by supporters of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who was toppled by the army in July 2013 following mass protests against his one-year rule and his Brotherhood group.
In late 2014, the Brotherhood has been designated by the new military-oriented leadership as "a terrorist organization" after a series of blasts targeted security premises and personnel, although the group denied connection to the terrorist attacks.
Also on Wednesday, Cairo Criminal Court sentenced 27 defendants to seven years in prison, 23 defendants to five years, three minors to three years, ten girls to one year over the riot, violence and vandalism incited by Brotherhood affiliate students in December, 2013 at the Islamic Al-Azhar University in the capital city.
Meanwhile, the court acquitted 13 defendants in the same case including a press photographer.
The verdicts require those who got jail terms to collect and pay together 2.16 million Egyptian pounds (over 280,000 U.S. dollars) in compensation.
"There is neither mercy nor pity for those who dared to stretch their hands to ruin, burn or damage educational institutions or public properties," the court said while enlisting the reasons for the verdicts.
On the other hand, Egyptian courts in Alexandria and Cairo ordered the release of some 68 Brotherhood members and loyalists pending trials in similar cases.
Egypt's judiciary is currently holding mass trials for thousands of defendants over charges varying from belonging to the Brotherhood to murdering anti-Brotherhood protesters.
Ousted Islamist President Morsi himself was sentenced last week to 20 years in prison over ordering the arrest and torture of protesters in 2012.
The ruling, which is appealable, is the first against the deposed leader, who has been standing trials since his ouster over a number of charges including the 2011 jailbreak, ordering the killing of anti-Brotherhood protesters, insulting the judiciary, espionage and leakage of classified documents to a foreign country.
Meanwhile, Cairo Criminal Court also sentenced 12 Brotherhood leading members to 20 years in prison, while two others received 10-year jail terms in the same case.
However, the court acquitted Morsi and the 14 other defendants of a more serious charge, namely ordering and inciting the killing of protesters, whose penalty could reach a capital punishment.
The group's top chief Mohamed Badie, who is also in custody, has been sentenced to death more than once and is currently wearing the execution red uniform while detained in prison.
The Brotherhood, which considers Morsi's ouster as "a military coup" against legitimacy, always denied connection with terrorist groups and urged anti-government protests.
On April 20, an Egyptian court ordered the execution of 22 of Morsi's loyalists over armed attack of a police station in Giza following Morsi's overthrow.
Earlier in February, the same Giza Criminal Court ordered execution of 183 of Morsi's supporters over killing 14 policemen and mutilating their bodies at the same police station.
Egypt carried out the first execution of one of Morsi's supporters in early March, as the man was convicted of killing young boys by throwing them off a building roof during a pro-Morsi protest in the seaside province of Alexandria.
[Source: Xinhua, Cairo, 29Apr15]
Crisis in Egypt
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