More than 680 people were sentenced to death for "inciting or committing acts of violence" after a trial of "a few minutes" in Egypt today, the New York Times reports. The accused were allegedly involved in pro-Muslim Brotherhood riots last August triggered by a deadly police crackdown on dissent.
The verdict, after a trial lasting only a few minutes, came just a month after the same judge drew condemnation from around the world for sentencing 529 other people to death in a similarly lightning-fast mass trial. The judge, Sayedd Yousef, affirmed the death sentences Monday of about 40 of the defendants in that mass trial and commuted the others to life in prison, which is understood here to mean 25 years.
The verdicts Monday and last month are subject to appeal. Both sets of trials involved sentences in absentia for many defendants who are still at large, and if they are arrested all will receive a retrial. But there has been little, if any, public criticism of the decisions from within the Egyptian judiciary, once regarded as a bastion of relative liberalism within Egypt’s authoritarian system.
According to an observer quoted in the Wall Street Journal, no lawyers were present at the trial.
One of those sentenced to death is Mohamed Badie, the spiritual leader or "supreme guide" of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group. According to the Times, if Badie is killed, it would be the first execution of a supreme guide in the 60-some-year history of violent conflict between the Brotherhood and the Egyptian state.