UNITED NATIONS, April 28 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said that he was "alarmed" by the news that another preliminary mass death sentence has been handed down earlier in the day in Egypt, saying that he "is conscious of the regional and security implications of such sentences."
"Verdicts that clearly appear not to meet basic fair trial standards, particularly those which impose the death penalty, are likely to undermine prospects for long-term stability," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman.
"As such, the secretary-general is conscious of the regional and security implications of such sentences," the statement said. "Stability in Egypt is essential for the overall stability of the entire North Africa and Middle East region."
An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced 683 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death over assaulting and murdering police last year, reports said. The defendants, including Brotherhood top leader Mohamed Badie, are accused of inciting violence and murdering policemen deliberately at Al-Adwa town in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya.
The files of the defendants will be passed to the country's Mufti, the highest religious authority, to give his Islamic legal opinion on the death sentences, which is not legally binding and could be ignored by the court.
Last month, the same court sentenced 529 Brotherhood members and supporters to death and referred their files to the Mufti who confirmed only 37 executions.
The court handed down its final capital punishment for 37 people and sentenced the remaining defendants to life in jail.
Violence has broken out in Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military since last July.
Last August, security forces used excessive force to disperse two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in the capital Cairo and Giza, leaving about 1,000 killed and thousands arrested.
In response, furious supporters of the deposed president staged anti-police rallies across the country that extended to storming police stations in several provinces including Minya.
"Separately, the secretary-general is concerned about a court case today banning the activities of the April 6 Youth Movement," said the statement. "He was disappointed that the appeals court on 7 April upheld the jailing of three emblematic figures of the 2011 uprising, including two founders of the youth movement."
"While respecting the independence of the judiciary, he recalls that both he and the (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns before and after the law regulating protest was promulgated, believing that it could lead to serious breaches of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly," said the statement.
"The secretary-general intends to discuss these concerns and other issues with the minister for foreign affairs of Egypt, Nabil Fahmy, later this week," it added.