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US 'deeply concerned' by Egypt death sentences

AFP, Monday 24 Mar 2014
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The United States is "deeply concerned" about the death sentences handed out against 529 supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi, a US official said Monday.

"While appeals are possible, it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony consistent with international standards could be accomplished with over 529 defendants after a two-day trial," a State Department official said.

An Egyptian court handed down the sentences earlier Monday, amid a sweeping crackdown on supporters of the Islamist president, who was overthrown by the army last July.

The largest mass sentencing in the country's history was related to the death of a policeman and other violence in the aftermath of the clearing of two squares last August.

"We continue to call on the Egyptian government to ensure that all those detained in Egypt are afforded fair proceedings that respect civil liberties and due process and are consistent with international standards. The law must be applied equitably and free of political bias," the State Department official said.

"We have said many times that even the appearance of politically-motivated arrests, detentions, and convictions will set Egypt's transition back," the official said.

The official, citing reports of violence in response to the sentences, warned that such a reaction would not help either.

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