Egypt sentences 54 Mursi supporters to life in jail

CAIRO (AFP) - An Egyptian anti-terror court on Wednesday sentenced 54 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi to life in prison for taking part in violent protests, judicial officials said.

The defendants, who stood trial in several cases, were convicted of belonging to a "terrorist" group, attempted murder, rioting, carrying out acts of violence, taking part in unlicensed protests and damaging public and private installations, the sources added.

Another 104 defendants, including three female students, were sentenced to jail terms of between one and 10 years over similar convictions Since the military ousted Mursi in July last year, his supporters have been staging weekly protests calling for his reinstatement.

The rallies have often degenerated into violent street clashes with security forces and civilian opponents.

In November, the military-installed authorities adopted a law baning all but police-sanctioned protests.

The interim government also blacklisted Mr Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group in December, without providing any hard evidence of the group's involvement in deadly militant attacks targeting security forces since the Islamist's overthrow.

The group has condemned the violence and said repeatedly it is committed to peaceful protests.

At least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes since Mr Mursi's overthrow, and more than 15,000 have been jailed.

Hundreds have been sentenced to death after speedy trials.

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