Islamist leaders Mohamed Badie, Safwat Hegazy, Essam El-Erian, Mohamed El-Beltagy
An Egyptian criminal court has sentenced a number of top Muslim Brotherhood leaders to death Thursday, judicial sources said.
The convicted include the Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and top leaders Safwat Hegazi and Mohamed El-Beltagi, as well as 11 others. The sentences will be carried out pending the religious advice of Egypt's top cleric, the Grand Mufti.
The referral of the sentences to the mufti is the first step in the legal process required to enact a death sentence. The mufti's decision is not binding, however; following his decision, the court will issue a final verdict. Once a final verdict is issued, defendants can appeal.
The charges in the case include inciting murder, and are in relation to clashes that took place outside Al-Isteqama mosque in Giza in August, after the ouster of the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi from the presidency.
The clashes were part of a wave of unrest that followed the security dispersal of two main sit-ins of Morsi supporters, in which hundreds were killed. Retaliatory attacks, blamed on the Brotherhood and their allies, took place nationwide.
Defendants also included Assem Abdel-Maged, a leader of the Gamaa Islamiya, Essam El-Erian, deputy head of Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, and Bassem Ouda, Morsi's supply minister. All three received death sentences.
Morsi himself is facing four trials on a variety of charges that could also lead to death penalty.
Hundreds of Morsi supporters were sentenced to death in recent months, mostly on charges of murder, attempted murder, initiating violence and joining a terrorist group: the Muslim Brotherhood.
In March, southern Egypt's Minya court sentenced 529 of Morsi supporters to death on charges of murdering a police officer. The court later upheld sentences for 37 of them and sentenced the rest to life in jail.
One month after, a court, also in Minya sentenced 683 Morsi supporters, also including Badie, to death for attacking a police station and killing a police officer.