In the capital of the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahlia, Mansoura Criminal Court issued sentences against 155 individuals said to be supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in a total of 13 different cases on Wednesday.
54 of the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment, while another 101 were handed prison sentences ranging from two to ten years.
Those sentenced on Wednesday include students from Mansoura University said to be members of the Students Against the Coup coalition, members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization, and pro-Morsi supporters, among others.
State-owned and mainstream media outlets describe these individuals as “members of the terrorist organization” and “students affiliated with terrorist groups” or “criminal elements.”
The state officially classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization on January 25, in light of the bombing of the Mansoura Police Directorate the previous day, which authorities attributed to the Brotherhood. This deadly attack left at least 15 dead and over 130 others injured. In written statements circulated on the Internet, the Brotherhood officially denounced the bombing and sought to distance itself from it.
The charges against the defendants include the destruction of public and private property, assaulting security forces, harming national unity, partaking in illegal protests, blocking roads, obstructing traffic, and affiliation with a terrorist organization.
From amongst the 155 defendants, 76 were present in court while another 79 were sentenced in absentia.
Hundreds of family members and friends of the defendants, who had gathered outside Mansoura’s judicial complex, reacted angrily to Wednesday’s verdicts. They chanted slogans against the judiciary, military rule, and against former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the military’s ouster of Morsi on July 3.
Protests and scuffles with security forces deployed outside the court quickly ensued and riot police forces responded by firing tear gas canisters at protesters.
Privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reported that among those sentenced on Wednesday were 21 students from Mansoura University, while state-owned Al-Ahram reported that 24 students were sentenced.
They include three female students — 18-year-olds Abrar Alaa al-Anani and Menna Mostafa al-Beleihi and 21-year-old Yousra Mohamed al-Khatib — who were given three years each, Mostafa al-Deeb, who was handed seven years, and the others were given five years.
The students were arrested by police forces on November 12 during clashes in and around the university campus. The violence is reported to have left at least 70 individuals — from amongst students and police — injured, and university properties torched.
Riot police forces in their trucks and armored personnel carriers were deployed inside the campus of Mansoura University on this day, for the first time since 2011.
On November 16, 2013, the student union at Mansoura University issued a statement demanding the immediate release of all students in incarceration, prohibiting security forces from entering the university campus in the future and the demanding the withdrawal of all police reports filled by the university’s management against the arrested students. The university board did not respond to the statement.