The sentence will now be referred to the Grand Mufti , the country’s top theological authority , for his non-binding opinion on the sentences. He usually approves the court’s decision. The sentences are subject to appeal. Of the 75 defendants sentenced, 44 are jailed and 31 are at large. The case involves 739 defendants, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid. The others will be sentenced in September.
The 2013 sit-in , which was violently dispersed on Aug. 14, supported former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi who was militarily ousted. Egyptian courts have held mass trials and handed down death sentences for hundreds of people, drawing international condemnation. In 2014, an Egyptian judge sentenced 529 Morsi supporters to death before 492 were later commuted to life in prison. Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings. Amnesty International says the dispersal of the sit-in killed more than 800 protesters. The Muslim Brotherhood was banned following Morsi’s overthrow in July 2013 in a coup led by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who became the country’s president a year later. Sisi was re-elected in March this year.