A court in the southern Egyptian city of Minya Sunday sentenced 42 supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi to jail terms varying from three to 15 years in prison on charges of rioting, state television reported.
The Criminal Court convicted the defendants, including three former members of parliament, of inciting attacks on police stations in the wake the military’s overthrow of Mursi in August last year.
Only three of the accused appeared for the trial while the others were still on the run.
Families of the defendants gathered outside the court building, chanting slogans against the army and police, according to Egyptian TV.
Security forces dispersed the protesters and blocked all roads leading to the court building.
The verdict was announced by presiding judge Saeed Yousuf, who last month sentenced 528 Mursi supporters to death on charges of killing a police officer and attacking state institutions in Minya, some 240km south of Cairo.
The mass death sentences, the largest in one case in Egypt’s judicial history, has drawn local and international condemnation.
The court is due Monday to deliver the final verdict after receiving the opinion of the Mufti, who is Egypt’s chief Islamic authority. Under Egyptian law, cases involving death sentences should be sent to the Mufti before the final ruling is passed.
Judge Yousuf is also expected Monday to announce the verdict in another case involving 683 Islamists including chief of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood Mohammad Badie. The defendants face charges of killing a policeman, attacking state institutions and illegally possessing weapons during the unrest that hit Minya, a Brotherhood stronghold, following Mursi’s toppling.
Police and army troops have been deployed in the area to prevent potential violence related to the cases, media reports said.
Armoured vehicles are to be positioned early Monday in the vicinity of the court building to which only people with special permits will have access.
Thousands of Islamists have been rounded up in Egypt since Mursi’s ouster in the toughest crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group in years.