An Egyptian trial judge on Monday informed 529 members and supporters of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood that they will be put to death after being convicted for a number of offenses such as cop-killing, assaults on civilians, and destruction of property, according to a former Israeli police officer assigned to a counterterrorism unit, Paul Wolfensky.
The defendants were selected for their continued support of the first elected president of Egypt following the downfall of the Mubarek regime, President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt executes civilians by hanging them, while military personnel are executed by firing squad.
This group facing the death penalty is the first of more than 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to be tried by the Egyptian government that recently banned membership in Islamist groups such as the Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations, according to reports in Egypt.
At first, the Brotherhood's Morsi government enjoyed popularity in the U.S. White House especially with President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton. In fact, news outlets reported that Obama and Clinton called the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi "moderates" who were not involved in terrorism and would not install a caliphate -- radical religious government -- when they would take power.
But in the wake of the military's removal of Morsi as leader of Egypt, and the new Egyptian leaders using their civilian police forces to ill-treat suspected Islamists with harshness -- including killing hundreds of alleged Brotherhood members and associates -- the Obama White House and his State Department are intentionally avoiding discussions about Egypt.
According to the Egyptian news media, death sentence ruling will be reviewed by Egypt's Grand Mufti, the nations top religious figure for his final verdicts on the 529 death sentences.
The Muslim Brotherhood is now calling the Egyptian government a dictatorship as bad, if not worse, than the decades-long Mubarek reign, according to reports.
While about 150 defendants were in court for the judge's sentencing, the majority of suspects were tried in absentia, leading attorneys to claim the trials are a sham.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian justice system is preparing to try another group of suspected Muslim Brotherhood members and Morsi supporters on Tuesday. The new trial is expected to name more than 600 defendants, many of whom are not yet in police custody.