A judge in Egypt on Monday sentenced 683 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, including the group’s leader, in a trial that Human Rights Watch has deemed unfair. Simultaneously, the April 6 movement that ignited the country’s revolution has been banned for the crimes of embarrassing Egypt and protesting without permission.

There is something truly absurd about the current military regime seizing power on the back of public protest and then banning such efforts retroactively. So much for one hand.

In a bit of good news — relatively speaking — the majority of the 529 death sentences handed down in one trial in March have been commuted to life in prison.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin describes the scene:

The verdict hit waiting relatives like a body blow. Several women collapsed on the ground, and had to be carried away. Others clustered together in their grief, some holding photos of their loved one. A man stood weeping in front of a line of riot police, protesting that his brother was an innocent man.

One woman told us her 15-year-old son was among the almost 700 men who received a preliminary death sentence.

[…] In the chaos outside the court relatives could not find out which men had been condemned to hang. One woman told us her son – who died three years ago – had been convicted in the case.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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