White House objects to Egypt mass conviction

 

The White House said it was "troubled" by an Egyptian court that sentenced hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters to death on Monday, the second of such mass sentences recently.

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"Today’s verdict, like the one last month, defies even the most basic standards of international justice," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The Egyptian government has the responsibility to ensure that every citizen is afforded due process, including the right to a fair trial, in which evidence is clearly presented and access to an attorney."

The convictions stemmed from a violent riot in the Egyptian city of Minya during which a police officer was killed, according to CNN. Mohammed Badie, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was among the 683 Egyptians sentenced to death.

The White House called on Egyptian leaders to "take a stand against this illogical action and dangerous precedent, recognizing that the repression of peaceful dissent will fuel the instability and radicalization that Egypt says it wishes to prevent."
 
"We urge the Egyptian government to end the use of mass trials, reverse this and previous mass sentences, and ensure that every citizen is afforded due process," Carney said.

The White House spokesman did not, however, threaten specific penalties or sanctions if Egyptian leaders did not halt the convictions. Egypt annually receives billions in U.S. aid.

The death sentences will be evaluated by Egypt's highest religious authority before becoming final. Earlier this year, 39 of 529 death sentences handed down in a similar trial were upheld, with other convicts seeing their sentences commuted to life in prison. The majority of the convicts are being tried in abstentia, and defendants are permitted to appeal.

Egypt has been in a state of chaos since protests toppled leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, was elected after Mubarak's removal, was ousted in July, and the military has administered the country since then.

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