In a heavily secured trial session, the Cairo Criminal Court, headed by judge Mohamed Farid, referred on Saturday 75 defendants to the Grand Mufti, hence primarily sentencing them to death, in the case known as the “Rabaa sit-in dispersal,” while the court postponed the final verdict for all defendants to 8 September.
The court is not obliged by the opinion of the Mufti. There are a total of 738 defendants in the case.
They face charges of arranging an illegal assembly, use of force, premeditated murder, the possession of weapons and bombs, obstruction of roads, and endangering public order.
Among those sentenced to death are the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and its most prominent members, such as Mohamed El-Beltagy, Essam Al-Eryan, and Osama Yasin.
Among the defendants involved in the case is independent photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as Shawkan, as well as others.
The case has stretched into its third year, as the first court session was held on 13 December 2015. Defendants remained in pre-trial detention for almost two years before referral to court. A group of the defendants were released due to health issues.
Shawkan was arrested among other journalists who were later released; however, he remains in jail despite filing all the required documents to the court that prove he was assigned to cover the sit-in’s dispersal.
The Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in was violently dispersed by security forces in August 2013, and hundreds were arrested, most of whom are currently on trial. The protesters were demonstrating against the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.