By Corey Charlton
An Egyptian court has condemned 188 people to death in the country’s latest mass death sentence to be ordered in the face of widespread international criticism.
The 188 were charged over the killing of 11 policemen last year in Kerdasa, a restive town west of Cairo considered a militant stronghold. The attack, in which the policemen’s bodies were badly mutilated, is considered one of the country’s grisliest assaults on security forces.
Egyptian soldiers wait for instructions as they gather in a street during an operation against gunmen in Kerdasa last year. A court has now sentenced 188 people to death for killing police officers during the unrest. The defendants also were accused of attempting to kill 10 more policemen, damaging a police station, setting police cars on fire and possessing heavy weapons.
The attack happened on the same day that security forces brutally cleared two protest camps of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters, killing hundreds.
Protesters were demanding the reinstatement of Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group. Some 22,000 people have been arrested since Morsi’s ousting, including most of the Brotherhood’s top leaders, as well as large numbers of others swept up by police during pro-Morsi protests.
Today’s sentence requires the opinion of Egypt’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti. The court is scheduled to issue a final verdict January 24. Defendants can then appeal.