UNHRC Condemns Egyptian Mass Death Sentences

The defendants were found guilty on Monday of charges relating to an attack on a police station in Minya in August 2013.

Another 683 Morsi supporters went on trial at the same court on Tuesday.

They include the Muslim Brotherhood's general guide, Mohammed Badie, and the chairman of its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Saad al-Katatni.

There has been widespread condemnation of Monday's decision by the Minya Criminal Court to sentence 528 people to death for their alleged participation in an attack on a police station.

The incident left almost 1,000 people dead.

The trial, at which more than three-quarters of the defendants were not present, is reported to have lasted less than an hour on Saturday.

The prosecution did not put forward evidence implicating any individual defendant, even though it had compiled significant evidence.

The court prevented defense lawyers from presenting their case or calling witnesses.

A second session was held on Monday solely to announce the verdict.

The 528 Morsi supporters sentenced to death on Monday were convicted of murder and damaging property.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told a news conference in Geneva: "The astounding number of people sentenced to death in this case is unprecedented in recent history."

"The mass imposition of the death penalty after a trial that was rife with procedural irregularities is in breach of international human rights law."

But Egypt's interim government defended the court, insisting that the sentences had been handed down only "after careful study".

The state-run al-Ahram newspaper said the court would issue its final verdict on 28 April.

The defendants may then appeal.

The 1,200 defendants in the two cases in Minya are among more than 16,000 Egyptians arrested over the past eight months.

By Angel Mboya

Source: BBC News

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