[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Thursday convicted 40 supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for committing violence last year in the wake of Morsi’s ousting by the Egyptian military. The group of Islamists were found guilty [BBC report] by a criminal court of burning churches, shops and police stations in the southern city of Assiut. Two of the defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison. The rest were given sentences ranging from one to 10 years, and 61 were acquitted. According to the BBC, 1,400 people have been killed in the government crackdown against opposition since summer of 2013.
Egypt has been plagued by violence and mass arrests with thousands jailed since last year. Earlier this week Egypt’s top prosecutor referred [JURIST report] 439 individuals to a military tribunal for the killing of three police officers last year. Earlier this month 188 individuals were sentenced [JURIST report] to death over the murder of eleven Egyptian police officers. In October military tribunals sentenced [JURIST report] 23 activists to three years in prison for protesting without a permit, an act that violates a law enacted [JURIST report] in November 2013. Also in November an Egyptian court referred [JURIST report] five students from Al-Azhar University [academic website, in Arabic] to a military trial over a violent protest in January when part of a campus building was torched.