CAIRO, March 24 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian criminal court sentenced 528 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday over assaulting police stations in the upper Egyptian province of Minya last August, official news agency MENA reported.
The Brotherhood suspects were charged with attacking a police premise in Mattai district and killing its deputy head after the dispersal of a major sit-in staged by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo last August.
They were also accused of breaking into governmental institutions, shooting randomly on security men, stealing police weapons and burning police stations, along with terrorizing local residents and disturbing public peace.
During the second hearing of the mass trial, 153 were in detention while the rest were sentenced in absentia. Other 16 defendants were acquitted.
Following the sentence, supporters torched a nearby school in protest, state-run Nile TV said without reporting any casualties.
The verdict is likely to be overturned on appeal, said Khalid el-Komy, one the defendant lawyers.
"This is the quickest case and the number sentenced to death is the largest in the history of the judiciary," Komy said.
The verdict can be appealed at the Court of Cassation, which would probably order a new trial or reduce the sentences, added the lawyer.
The court decision is "null in all procedures," added the lawyer, deeming it as "blow on the head of the judiciary." How can a court gives final decision in such big case in just two sessions, he wondered.
The court referred the verdict to the grand mufti, the government's official interpreter of Islamic law, for ratification, MENA added. The mufti's opinion is consultative.
The convicted are among more than 1,200 of Morsi supporters who are on trial in Minya. A second group of about 700 defendants including the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie will stand trial on Tuesday.
Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood, was ousted by the army on July 3, 2013 in response to mass protests over his turbulent one year in rule.
The army-installed government dispersed the two main protest camps of Morsi's supporters last August, leaving more than 600 dead, but the Brotherhood said the toll exceeded 5,000.
Thousands of Brotherhood members are on trial including Morsi himself on charges of killing protesters, inciting violence and cooperating with foreign groups against the country's national security.
The Islamist group was blacklisted as a terrorist organization last December following a militant attack against a police headquarters which killed 16 people in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.
In an immediate response, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called for mass protests on Wednesday at Tahrir square, the epic center of the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, along with Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda squares, the two bases for Morsi's sit-ins.
In a statement posted on its facebook page, the alliance urged the people to raise the Egyptian flag and Rabaa four finger symbol, a political gesture for resistance against the security forces crackdown on Islamists.
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