CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced 29 people that it described as Islamist supporters of the ousted president to five years imprisonment on several charges that included rioting.
The ruling by Nasr City misdemeanor court was in connection to demonstrations held to protest last July's ouster of Mohammed Morsi by the military. The sentences came a day after a court in southern Egypt sentenced more than 680 people to death from clashes stemming from last year's post-coup violence.
The death sentences were condemned in the West and by human rights groups as contrary to the rule of law. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday called them "outrageous" and said it was "high time that Egypt takes its human rights commitments seriously." She also noted that Egypt had ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch, said the verdicts were evidence that Egypt's judicial system was "broken." "Egypt is handing out death sentences like candy," she said in an announcement.
In Berlin, the German government summoned Egypt's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry to protest the death sentences. The sentences are not final and many are expected to be overturned on appeal. Meanwhile in the northern coastal province of Damietta, clashes broke out between alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and local residents during a funeral, leaving two dead.
Earlier in the day, in North Sinai, army officials said they killed three militants they described as leaders of the al-Qaida-inspired group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, that has claimed responsibility for many of the explosions targeting security forces in recent months.
Three other alleged militants were arrested in the incident, two of whom were cousins of Tawfiq Mohamed Freij — the man the group claims was their founder who died last month.