Last updated: 30 April, 2014

Egypt Islamist leader hits out at death sentence

An Egyptian judge jailed Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 21 others for a year Wednesday for insulting the court during a trial in which ousted president Mohamed Morsi is also a defendant.

Earlier, Badie had lashed out against another court’s death sentence against him and 682 alleged Islamists, insisting that the “coup” that toppled the Islamist Morsi would be defeated.

Badie, Morsi and the others are in the dock for allegedly plotting attacks and jail breaks, in one of many trials for the Islamists since the army ousted Morsi last July.

The judge sentenced Badie and 20 others inside the caged dock for turning their backs on him.

Another defendant, firebrand preacher Safwat Hegazy, was sentenced to a year for contempt after he called out to the judge using his first name.

On Monday, a court in the southern Minya province sentenced Badie and 682 alleged Brotherhood supporters to death for deadly rioting.

The mass sentences, the second in two months, sparked global outrage, with the United States urging the government to reverse the judgement.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, the army-installed government has conducted an extensive crackdown that has left at least 1,400 people dead and thousands in prison.

“I did not attend this trial, and I along with 1,000 others have been condemned to death,” said Badie of this week’s sentencing, which took place in his absence.

“The coup will end,” he said.

Morsi, who often tries to interrupt court proceedings with speeches, added: “This farce will end.”

Morsi faces three trials, all of which can lead to the death sentence. Much of the leadership of his Brotherhood movement has been arrested and put on trial.

In Monday’s sentencing, the defendants were convicted of the murder and attempted murder of policemen during riots in Minya.

The same judge had sentenced 529 people to death on similar charges in March, but later commuted most of those sentences to life in prison.

Justice Minister Nayer Abdel-Moneim Othman defended the judiciary at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it was “independent.”

But he stressed that Monday’s sentencing was preliminary and could be appealed.

“Why is there an appeal process? Because the judge is a human. He can make a mistake,” he said.

The judge, Said Youssef Sabry, has a built a reputation for tough sentences. He is scheduled to confirm or commute the sentences on June 21.