By Jordyn Palmer 3-25-13
All of the defendants in this case are members of a now labeled banned group in Egypt called Muslim Brotherhood.
The sentence comes after a violent riot in the southern Egyptian city of Minya that occurred last August surrounding President Mohamed Morsy. Morsy was a former member of Muslim Brotherhood, but dropped his affiliation to show his attempt to represent all Egyptians equally. President Morsy was overthrown by the opposition in July 2013 and the riot in Minya followed in the next month.
During the violence in Minya, Muslim Brotherhood fought on the pro-Morsy side, which ended up being responsible for the death of one policeman.
Since the riot, Egypt’s interim government declared Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization, leading to the recent mass death sentence.
While the news is shocking to many, experts in Egypt believe that it is not likely that everyone who was sentenced to death will be executed. In Egypt, many death sentences are reduced or overturned, and the large appeals process gives defendants a higher chance of getting their sentence removed.
In a court date on Monday, only 147 of the defendants showed up and 16 were acquitted at the hearing. On Tuesday, hundreds of others appeared before the same judge. The case was adjourned until April 28.
In response to the situation, the Egyptian government clarified that they took no part in the sentencing. They stress that the Egyptian judiciary is a separate entity from the government, and that the Egyptian judiciary is not influenced by the executive branch of government.
Additionally, the government’s statement pointed out that this is only the first verdict of the trial process, and that those who have been sentenced will have the opportunity to fight their verdict later on.