The Shubra Al-Kheima Criminal Court referred to the Grand Mufti on Saturday 10 defendants tried in absentia for blocking a road for him to consider a death sentence, while the court’s verdict for the remaining 38 defendants was postponed to 5 July.
In total 48 defendants are being tried in the case on charges of murder, inciting violence and blocking the Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road in Qaliub on 22 July 2013. These defendants include Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, Freedom and Justice Party Secretary General Mohamed Al-Beltagy and conservative preacher Safwat Hegazy.
Ten of the defendants are being tried in absentia, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal mufti Abdel Rahman Al-Barr, Salafi preachers Mohamed Abdel Maqsood and Gamal Abdel Hady, according to Ali Kamel, member of the Committee to Defend the Opposers of the Coup. The 10 defendants were served preliminary death sentences on Saturday.
The sentences will be passed to Grand Mufti Shawqy Allam for consideration; however, he is not legally required to provide an opinion and any recommendation he makes is not legally binding.
During the trial’s previous session, Badie said that the 85 year-old Muslim Brotherhood has “never committed violent acts,” adding that he was “unjustly” charged. Al-Beltagy and Hegazy, who were also allowed to testify in their own defence during the previous session, both denied the charges.
The Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Badie faces a slew of other charges in separate cases. He is among 638 who were sentenced to death on 28 April by the Minya Criminal Court for allegedly killing two policemen and breaking into the Edwa police station on 14 August 2013.
Badie also stands trial alongside 50 others for purportedly “forming an operations room to direct the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group to defy the government during the Rabaa sit-in dispersal, and spread chaos in the country [by] breaking into police stations, government institutions, private property, and churches”.
Al-Beltagy and Hegazy are also being tried for partaking in the kidnapping and torture of two police officers during the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in.
These trials are part of a series of other trials that began against Brotherhood figures after the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi last July, who himself is in detention and faces four separate trials.
Additional reporting by Hend Kortam