A court in Egypt has condemned eight anti-government protesters believed to be supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi to life in prison on charges of taking part in rallies against the incumbent military-backed government last year.

On Tuesday, the court ruled in absentia that the defendants chanted slogans against the army and the police, blocked roads and damaged public property in the eastern al-Marg district of the capital, Cairo, in June 2014.

The prosecution also accused the men of membership in a terrorist organization, carrying weapons, staging illegal protests, resisting authorities, attempting to undermine public safety, and damaging public and private buildings.

On May 7, the criminal court in the southern province of Sohag sentenced 60 people to three to ten years in jail for what it described as committing acts of violence during anti-government protests.

The measure came only three days after another Egyptian court gave death sentences to five people, believed to be supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood political party, in connection with the alleged killing of more than a dozen police officers during a deadly security crackdown near the capital.

Hundreds of Morsi’s supporters have been given death sentences or jail terms after often speedy mass trials.

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, was toppled in a July 2013 military coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president and the then head of the armed forces. Morsi was himself given a 20-year prison term on April 21.

The United Nations (UN) has slammed the trials as unprecedented in recent history. Amnesty International, among other rights groups, has denounced the mass trials and the heavy-handed measures taken by the Egyptian government against protesters and Morsi’s supporters.


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