An Egyptian court on Saturday handed down a preliminary death sentence against 75 defendants in connection with the dispersal of a major protest camp in Cairo in 2013, according to a judicial source.
The court referred the defendants to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top religious authority, for consideration of the death penalty against them over charges ranging from murder to blocking roads.
Egyptian law requires courts to refer cases to the Mufti for consideration of the death penalty ahead of a final verdict although his decision is non-binding.
The court has set September 8 as a date for confirming the verdict.
Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders are among the defendants, including Essam al-Erian and Mohamed el-Beltagi as well as Islamist clerics Safwat Hegazi and Wajdi Ghoneim.
The Egyptian military deposed democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi in a coup in mid-2013 after serving one year in power.
In August of the same year, security forces violently cleared a major protest camp in support of Morsi in Cairo’s Rabaa al Adawiya Square.
While official estimates put the number of fatalities in the dispersal at 632, rights groups say that more than 1,000 have been killed.
Since Morsi’s overthrow, Egyptian authorities launched a relentless crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds of his supporters and sending thousands behind bars.