185 sentenced to death in Egypt

by Staff, |
A view shows a damaged police station burnt in a blaze by supporters of former president Mohamed Mursi in Kerdasa, a town 14 km (9 miles) from Cairo in this September 19, 2013 file photograph. | REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Files

CAIRO -- An Egyptian criminal court sentenced 185 people to death Tuesday for attacking a police station near Cairo in 2013, which resulted in the deaths of 12 officers. The attack happened on the same day that security forces massacred hundreds of protesters who supported Islamic President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted from power last year.

The mass death sentence handed down by the judge is a preliminary sentence and can be appealed. The move has been roundly condemned by international human rights groups like Human Rights Watch.

The attack on the police station took place in Kerdasa on Aug. 14, 2013.

Defendants were accused of attempting to kill another 10 policemen, damaging the police station, setting police cars on fire and possessing heavy weaponry, according to the Associated Press.

Only 151 of the 188 sentenced currently are in custody; the others were tried in absentia. The final verdict will come to the country's top religious leader, the Grand Mufti, though a veto by him will not necessarily mean the defendants will be spared.

After Morsi was removed from power, 22,000 have been arrested, many of them Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters. Since then, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief, has taken power.