An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the retrial of 36 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, who were sentenced to death in a mass trial last year that included the group’s leader, judicial sources said, according to Reuters.
The 36 were among 183 sentenced to death by a criminal court in the southern Minya province last June. The other defendants, including the Brotherhood’s General Guide Mohammed Badie, were tried in absentia. The court gave no reason for the retrial.
Badie and the other defendants were charged in connection with violence near Minya in August 2013 following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi a month earlier. One police officer was killed in the violence.
The Brotherhood leader was under arrest in Cairo during the trial and was not transferred to the Minya court for security reasons. He is serving a life sentence in a Cairo jail in a separate case, noted Reuters.
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A video of him released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.
The Brotherhood has faced the toughest crackdown in its history since Morsi’s removal, with thousands of Brotherhood supporters having been jailed. By contrast, Figures from the Hosni Mubarak era have been released and new laws curtailing political freedoms have raised fears among activists that the old leadership is back.
The rise of mass convictions in Egypt has been described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".