White House "deeply troubled" by death sentences in Egypt

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The United States is "deeply troubled" by an Egypt court's death sentence for the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and hundreds of supporters, the White House said on Monday, condemning the country's use of mass trials.

"Today's verdict, like the one last month, defies even the most basic standards of international justice. The Egyptian government has the responsibility to ensure that every citizen is afforded due process, including the right to a fair trial in which evidence is clearly presented, and access to an attorney," the White House said in a statement.

"We urge the Egyptian government to end the use of mass trials, reverse this and previous mass sentences, and ensure that every citizen is afforded due process."

An Egyptian court on Monday banned a pro-democracy movement that helped ignite the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, judicial sources and the website of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said.

The court was ruling on a private lawsuit brought by a lawyer accusing the April 6 movement of "damaging the image of the state" and illegal contact with foreigners, judicial sources said.

April 6 was one of the youth movements that harnessed social media to bring people into the streets for the historic January 25, 2011 protests that led to Mubarak's downfall at the height of the "Arab Spring" uprisings.

Three leading members of April 6 - Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Douma - were sentenced to three years in prison in December on charges including protesting illegally. Their appeals were rejected in April.

The "Cairo Court for Urgent Matters" that issued Monday's ruling was the same body that last year banned the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency in a 2012 election.

The army-backed authorities have cracked down hard on the Islamists and secular-minded opponents since the military deposed Mursi last July after mass protests against his rule.

An Egyptian court intensified that crackdown on Monday by handing down a death sentence on the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters.

More details were not immediately available on Monday's ruling on the case against April 6 brought by a lawyer called Ashraf Saeed.

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