April 28 - An Egyptian court sentences to death nearly 700 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and its leader, intensifying a crackdown on the movement that could trigger political violence ahead of elections. Mana Rabiee reports.
Families of prisoners stand outside an Egyptian courthouse on Monday, in shock. The court just handed down death sentences to some 682 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and its leader. The cases stem from violence that broke out last year following a government crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters. The mother of one of the men says her son is innocent. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MOTHER OF ACCUSED TAHER MOHAMED HASSAN, SAREEMA MOHAMED, SAYING: "I swear to God he did not do anything. The officer came and arrested him when he was sleeping in bed and started investigating him. We were sleeping in safety. He is trustworthy, well mannered, fasts, prays, and has manners." One human rights advocate called it the largest possible death sentences in recent world history. Monday's tough court decision suggests authorities still see the Brotherhood as a major threat, even though most of its leaders and thousands of its members are behind bars. It could trigger political violence in Egypt ahead of an election next month.