A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi throws tear gas towards Egyptian security forces in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. (Photo: AP).
Sixteen supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi were sentenced to five years in prison on Sunday for illegally protesting last December.
Judicial sources told the Reuters affiliated Aswat Masriya website that the indicted faced an array of charges including rioting, assaulting police officers, resisting arrest, protesting without a permit, using Molotov cocktails and belonging to a terrorist group.
The Muslim Brotherhood – from which Morsi hails – was branded a terrorist group by Egypt's transitional government in December, following the bombing of a security building in the Nile Delta. The attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, an Islamic militant group that the interim government has accused of having links with the Brotherhood.
A strict protest law was passed in November sanctioning police to disperse demonstrations not pre-approved by authorities and and imposes heavy jail terms and fines.
The 16 Morsi supporters had been arrested at a 27 December protest, according to Aswat Masriya.
Dozens of Morsi supporters have been given similar sentences during the past months. However, this week saw a north Cairo criminal court acquit 61 Morsi supporters as well as Al-Jazeera photographer Mohamed Badr of similar charges.
The defendants were arrested in mid-July, almost two weeks after Morsi's ouster, when clashes erupted in downtown Cairo between police and protesters demanding the elected president's reinstatement.
They were put on trial for inciting murder, thuggery, possessing unlicensed weapons, vandalising public facilities, blocking roads and using force against security forces.