March 16, 2015 / 7:19 PM / 3 years ago

Egyptian court wants death penalty for Brotherhood leader and 13 others: sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court seeks the death penalty for the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leader Mohamed Badie and 13 other members of the group for inciting chaos and planning attacks on police and army institutions, judicial sources said on Monday.

Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie listens to lawyers as he sits behind bars during his trial with ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and other leaders of the brotherhood at a court in the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo December 14, 2014. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

The court formally referred the case to the Grand Mufti, the country’s highest Islamic legal official, which is the first step towards imposing a death sentence.

Egyptian law requires any capital sentence to be referred to the Mufti for an religious opinion before any execution can take place, although the Mufti’s ruling is not binding. Once the court issues a final verdict, set for April 11, the defendants can appeal it.

The 14 include the Brotherhood’s Salah Soltan, a preacher, and Saad al-Hosseiny, ex-governor of Kafr el-Sheikh province.

Egypt has jailed thousands linked to the Muslim Brotherhood since the army removed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi from power in July 2013, a year after he was elected, following mass protests against his rule.

As the top leader of the now-outlawed Brotherhood, Badie has already been sentenced to multiple life terms. He was one of hundreds given the death sentence in a mass trial last year that drew international criticism of Egypt’s judicial system.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat.

The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism and had nothing to do with recent Islamist militant violence.

The state news agency MENA said the judge overseeing Monday’s decision was Mohamed Nagi Shehata, who has played a prominent role in the Egyptian judiciary’s mass jailings of Islamist and liberal demonstrators.

Reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Shadi Bushra; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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