More than 100 supporters of Egypt's deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi were sentenced to 10 years in jail on Saturday on charges of murder and inciting violence, judicial sources said.
Violence has increased in the country since last July, when the army toppled Morsi and authorities launched a crackdown on his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist group. Thousands of its supporters have been arrested and hundreds killed, and its leaders are on trial.
Saturday’s verdicts for the 102 defendants, handed down ahead of a May 26-27 presidential election, are related to deaths that occurred during clashes in Cairo last July between security forces and Brotherhood supporters.
Two other Brotherhood supporters who were defendants in the case received seven-year jail sentences, the sources said. Only 35 defendants were present in court; the others were tried in absentia.
Another Egyptian court sentenced the leader of the Brotherhood and 682 supporters to death earlier this week, intensifying the crackdown and drawing Western criticism.
Many of the lawyers for the accused boycotted that hearing, demanding that the judge be recused and calling him a "butcher."
Mohamed Abdel Waheb, a lawyer who represented 25 of the defendants, said that verdict was handed down in a court session lasting less than five minutes.
Former army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who led the ousting of Morsi, is expected to win the coming presidential election.
Egypt has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group, but the organization says it is committed to peaceful activism.
On Friday, two suicide bombings in Egypt's South Sinai killed a soldier and wounded at least eight people, and two other bombs killed two people in Cairo, official sources said.
Armed groups based in the Sinai – that are unaffiliated with the Brotherhood – have stepped up attacks on security forces since the toppling of Morsi, killing hundreds in a fast-growing insurgency.