Death sentence for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood preacher

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - An Egyptian court confirmed a death sentence against controversial Muslim Brotherhood preacher Wagdy Ghoneim on Sunday after the country’s grand mufti gave his consent to the verdict.

The court in Cairo issued the death sentence in absentia against Ghoneim on charges of establishing a "terror group," which allegedly incited violence against security forces.

On 2 April, a Cairo criminal court issued a preliminary death sentence against Ghoneim and two other men after they were convicted of inciting the murder of security forces personnel and Christians. Five other men were handed life sentences in the same case.

The ruling against Ghoneim and his co-defendants was awaiting the non-binding consultative opinion of the country’s grand mufti, as per Egypt's penal code, before becoming official. The death sentence was referred to the grand mufti earlier this month.

The death sentences against Ghoneim, believed to be residing in Turkey, and the two other defendants are subject to appeal.

Ghoneim, an outspoken supporter of ousted president Mohammad Morsi, however, dismissed the ruling later in the day, saying he had not been in Egypt for years.

The military-backed government in Egypt continues a brutal suppression of opposition since the country's first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup led by former army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.

Ghoneim, who had launched a campaign against the military-led ouster of Morsi, reportedly left Egypt amid heavy post-coup crackdown.

He has faced several lawsuits and trials in Egypt since 2012 over statements considered offensive to women and Christians.

According to human rights activists, since the ouster of Morsi, the crackdown by security forces has led to the deaths of over 1,400 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.

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