[JURIST] An Egyptian court Wednesday sentenced 230 protesters to life in prison, finding them guilty of taking part in violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo in December 2011. Among those sentenced, was [AP report] prominent activist Ahmed Douma, who is seen as one of the leading forces behind the 2011 protest movement [JURIST report] that forced president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile] to step down. Douma is currently serving a three-year sentence for violating Egypt’s heavily criticized [BBC report] anti-protest law. The judge presiding over the case, Mohammed Nagi Shehata, has previously drawn international criticism after he sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison for crimes that include supporting terrorist organizations. One of the journalists, Austrian national Peter Greste, was released [JURIST report] earlier this week. Wednesday’s ruling can be appealed.
Political unrest in the wake of the ousting of president Mohammed Morsi has led to a dramatic rise in mass trials in Egypt, with hundreds of protesters sentenced to prison terms, and even death. Earlier this week a court in Egypt confirmed death sentences [JURIST report] for 183 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood [BBC backgrounder] and ousted president Morsi. Also this week Amnesty International [advocacy website] issued a press release [JURIST report] stating that it has gathered evidence that the Egyptian government is covering up the deaths of more than two dozen people who died in protests on the anniversary of the 2011 uprisings. Last week security forces in Egypt arrested [JURIST report] 516 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood according to Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. Also in January Egypt’s Court of Cessation [official website, in Arabic] upheld [JURIST report] convictions and three-year prison sentences of three activists for violating the country’s controversial protest laws.