An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced to death four members of the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood over the killing of protesters who stormed the group's Cairo headquarters in June last year.
A crowd of angry protesters stormed and torched the headquarters on June 30, 2013, as millions took to the streets in Cairo and other cities demanding Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s resignation.
Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted just days later by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after one year in office.
A Cairo court sentenced the four men to death after finding them guilty of “killing, inciting to kill, possessing guns and live ammunition and joining armed groups to terrorise people,” a judicial official said.
Prosecutors said 12 protesters were killed when they clashed with Morsi supporters during the storming of the offices. More than 90 protesters were wounded.
Sunday’s sentences are preliminary and will be forwarded to the country’s mufti, or top Muslim cleric, to be ratified.
Decisions on 14 other defendants in the case, including Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie and his deputies Khairat al-Shater and Saad al-Katatni, will be made at the next hearing on February 28, the official said.
All the defendants were present in court on Sunday.
Badie and his two deputies along with Morsi are facing several other trials. Badie has already been sentenced to death in one case and to life in prison in three others.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which swept to power after the ouster of veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, has faced a brutal government crackdown since Morsi was forced from office.
At least 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown, thousands imprisoned and dozens sentenced to death after often speedy trials.
International rights groups have raised concerns about the court rulings, in particular mass death sentences, accusing the judiciary of taking sides and not conducting fair trials.