[JURIST] The Court of Cassation [official website] in Egypt today sentenced 19 supporters of the formerly ousted president Mohammed Morsi [BBC backgrounder] to five years in prison for rioting last year outside the Al-Azhar Islamic institution [official website]. It has been reported [Daily News Egypt] that the supporters were accused of assaulting civil servants, damaging public property, blocking roads and displaying unwarranted aggression to the public outside the Islamic institution. One other supporter who was also involved in the incident was also sentenced to three years in prison. In addition to jail time, the convicted supporters face a fine of EGP $20,000. These verdicts come two days before Egypt’s presidential election where experts predict [AP report] former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi [BBC backgrounder] to win. As a result of el-Sissi’s leading efforts in the ousting of Morsi, his political campaign has been viewed as a contributing factor to the rioting and political unrest by former Morsi supporters.
Arrests and prosecutions of supporters for Morsi have been an ongoing issue in Egypt. An Egyptian court this month acquitted 169 Muslim Brotherhood [official website] supporters on charges relating to the violence following the ouster of Morsi last year [JURIST reports]. Egyptian authorities have arrested hundreds of Morsi supporters since he was ousted last July. Last month an Egyptian judge sentenced [JURIST report] 683 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death, including the group’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie [Washington Institute backgrounder]. The judge also confirmed the death sentence of 37 of 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced to death in March [JURIST report]. The remaining defendants’ sentences were commuted to life prison.