UPDATE – Hamas slams Egypt death verdicts for group members

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Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday slammed an Egyptian court verdict that sought capital punishment for a number of group members over charges of breaking out of an Egyptian jail in 2011.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described as “deplorable” the court’s decision to refer 106 defendants, including two Hamas members, to the grand mufti, Egypt’s top religious authority, to consider possible death sentences against them.

“It is a politicized case, and the verdict has tainted the record of the Egyptian judiciary,” Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency.

He argued that defendants in the case “included martyrs, prisoners and members of the [Palestinian] resistance.”

An Egyptian court on Saturday referred 106 defendants, including ousted President Mohamed Morsi, to the grand mufti to consider death penalty against them on jailbreak charges.

A number of Hamas members were among those referred to the mufti.

Egyptian authorities accuse Morsi and 130 others of taking part in a mass jailbreak during Egypt’s January 2011 uprising that ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

The opinion of the mufti is not binding to the court, but Egyptian law makes it necessary for judges to seek a religious point of view on any death sentence.

Relations between Egypt and Hamas had soured since the Egyptian military ousted Morsi in mid-2013, with Egyptian authorities tightening its grip on the Rafah border crossing – Gaza’s only outlet to the world outside of Israel’s control.

Egyptian media blames Hamas, an ideological offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, for a series of deadly attacks on security forces carried out since Morsi’s ouster by the army in mid-2013.

Hamas, for its part, has consistently denied the claims.

(AA)

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