An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced Mohamed Badie, leader of the illegal Muslim Brotherhood group, and 13 other senior members of the organization to death for inciting chaos and violence, while also giving a life term to U.S. citizens who were convicted for ties to the Brotherhood.
The men are among thousands of others who were detained after the overthrow of elected President Mohamed Mursi, who represented the Islamist party. His rule was toppled in 2013 by a military coup led by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Since coming to power, Sisi has outlawed the Brotherhood and held mass trials against its members. The group has insisted that it is peaceful in nature and has denied any links to ongoing Islamist violence in the country.
Egypt has prosecuted members of the group and those accused of having links to the group alike, drawing international condemnation from human rights groups who say Sisi is using the opportunity to crack down on dissent. Human rights group have also criticized the U.S. government’s decision to restore a frozen agreement to supply military aid to Cairo.
The sentences were read before the court on Saturday in a televised session and can be appealed before Egypt’s highest civilian court, Reuters reported.
Among those sentenced was U.S.-Egyptian citizen Mohamed Soltan, who was given a sentence of life in prison for supporting the movement and spreading misinformation. He is the son of Salah Soltan, a senior Brotherhood member, who was among those sentenced to death. None of the 51 defendants were present to hear the ruling.
One of the lawyers representing the group’s defense, Mohamed Abdel-Mawgod, condemned the ruling. "The court did not differentiate between the defendants and put them all in the same basket," he told Reuters.