The Cairo Criminal Court referred on Saturday death sentences against 75 top figures of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to the Grand Mufti, the country’s top theological authority, for his non-binding opinion on the sentences.
Egypt’s Mufti usually approves the court’s decision.
The court set September 8th as the date to issue the final verdict for all 739 defendants accused in the case.
The case, known as the “Rabaa Dispersal Case,” refers to the August 13 sit-in in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo which supported former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The sit-in was violently dispersed. More than 600 people were killed. Months later, Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Among the 75 defendants sentenced to death are Essam El-Erian, Mohamed Beltagy and Wagdy Ghoneim (fugitive), Abdel-Rahman al-Bar, Osama Yassin (former Youth Minister), Assem Abdul Majed (fugitive) and Tareq Al Zumar (fugitive). Forty-four of them are jailed and 31 are at large.
Charges against them include premeditated murder, attacking citizens, resisting authorities, destroying public property, and possessing firearms and Molotov cocktails.
Also tried in this case is journalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as “Shawkan”. He was lately awarded the World Press Freedom Prize by UNESCO.
Investigations conducted by the Public Prosecution were based on the statements of several witnesses who live near the area where the sit-in was staged.
According to the Public Prosecution, the defendants organized an armed sit-in and launched armed marches to several areas.
The Court had been studying the case for the past two and a half years, listening to a large number of witnesses, mainly Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Ibrahim and a number of police officers and people who had been injured during those events.