Kerdasa police station (Photo: Al-Ahram)
An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the referral of 22 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to the country's Grand Mufti, in a preliminary step before the death sentences against the defendants can be finalised.
The defendants are charged with murdering a policeman, attempted murder of others, rioting, sabotage of public properties, using force against security forces and possession of weapons, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Referral to the Grand Mufti is a necessary procedure before issuing a death sentence, according to Egyptian law, though the religious opinion of the Mufti is non-binding.
The case is related to violent events that took place nationwide amid the ouster of Morsi on July 3, 2013.
Prosecutors said the defendants attempted to break into the police station of Kerdasa, a working-class district in Giza known to be a hotbed for Islamists.
The case involves 23 defendants and a verdict is expected in session on April 20. Of those defendants, 15 were present during the trial and another eight are being tried in absentia.
The court was presided over by judge Nagy Shehata who in the past few months has issued death sentences against dozens of Islamists as well as handed life sentences to pro-January 25 revolution activists.
Egyptian courts in recent months looked into two other cases related to violence in Kerdasa: one in which 188 stood trial for storming the Kerdasa police station in the aftermath of the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins in August 2013, an attack that killed 11 policemen.
On February 2, 2015 the court issued a final death sentence against 183 of the defendants, handed out a ten-year jail term to a minor and acquitted two defendants. Two other defendants passed away.
In the second case, 22 people stood trial on charges of killing police general Nabil Farrag and injuring nine other policemen during a security raid on Kerdasa to apprehend individuals wanted for the previous violent attack in August 2013.
Also on February 2, 2015, the Court of Cassation accepted defence arguments challenging death sentences against 12 defendants and life-in-jail rulings for ten others in Farrag's murder case.
The court also ordered the retrial of seven of the defendants - those present at the trial - who had received the death penalty.