Egyptian court acquits 4 police officers involved in protesters' deaths
An Egyptian court has acquitted four police officers of their charges of being involved in the deaths of 37 detained supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood last year.
On Saturday, the Egyptian appeals court overturned the 10-year jail sentence given to one of the police officers as well as the suspended one-year sentences handed down to the three other officers involved in the August deaths.
Last August, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said 37 detained supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi had died of asphyxiation after teargas was fired into the police van transferring them to a prison in the capital Cairo.
Also on Saturday, another court in the Nile Delta town of Banha sentenced 10 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death in absentia on charges of inciting violence and blocking a road north of Cairo during protest rallies last July.
Egypt descended into chaos after the army deposed the country’s first democratically-elected president on July 3, 2013.
Since then, Egypt’s military-backed government has launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and arrested thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members, including the party’s senior leaders.
In December 2013, the Egyptian government also designated Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist” group.
However, supporters of Morsi continue to defy the heavy-handed clampdown by staging protests that often turn into violent street clashes with security forces and civilian opponents.
According to Amnesty International, more than 1,400 people have been killed in the political violence that erupted in Egypt after Morsi’s ouster, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces.”
The UK-based rights group has also criticized Egyptian authorities for using an “unprecedented scale” of violence against protesters and dealing “a series of damaging blows to human rights.”