Egypt condemns 188 to death over police killings

The accused were found guilty of taking part in an August 14, 2013 attack on a police station in a village on the outskirts of Cairo which killed 13 policemen.

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CAIRO // An Egyptian court condemned 188 people to death over a deadly attack on police.

The accused, of whom 143 are behind bars, were found guilty of taking part in an August 14, 2013 attack on a police station in Kerdassa, a village on the outskirts of Cairo, killing 13 policemen.

The attack, which saw the policemen’s bodies mutilated, is considered one of the country’s grisliest assaults on security forces.

It took place on the same day security forces dismantled two massive Islamist protest camps in Cairo in an operation that led to clashes in which at least 700 lost their lives.

Death sentences in Egypt are subject to approval by the Grand Mufti, the country’s highest Muslim religious authority. The verdict is to be confirmed or commuted on January 24.

Egypt has been sharply criticised for recent mass death sentences largely targeting Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Earlier this year, a judge in the southern city of Minya sentenced more than 1,200 people to death in two mass trials. The number of death sentences, initially the most in recent memory anywhere in the world, was later reduced to some 200.

Those cases also involve attacks on police stations and the killing of police officers following the dispersal of the protest camps.

Tuesday’s mass sentencing came the same day the public prosecutor’s office said it would appeal a court decision to drop murder charges against Hosni Mubarak over the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising that drove him from power.

A Cairo court on Saturday ordered the dropping of murder and corruption charges against Mubarak, who was forced to resign after three decades in power.

“The ruling was marred by a legal flaw,” the prosecution said, adding that the decision to appeal was “not influenced by disputes among political groups”.

Mubarak is serving a three-year sentence in a separate graft case.

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press