MINYA , Egypt, April 28 (UPI) -- A judge presiding over a mass trial in Minya, Egypt, recommended the death penalty for 683 people Monday, including Mohammed Badie, Muslim Brotherhood leader.
The defendants faced charges in an attack on a police station in Minya in 2013, in which one police officer was killed. The Egyptian government considers the Muslim Brotherhood -- which supports former President Mohammed Morsi -- a terrorist group, an accusation the organization has strongly denied.
The trials, criticized by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other rights organizations, took only a few hours, and defense lawyers were not permitted to present their cases.
The court building was in chaos after the decisions were made public, with women collapsing to the floor, and others clustered together, crying as they held photographs of loved ones. Confusion increased after 492 men out of 529 cases had death sentences from March commuted to life imprisonment in a separate mass trial.
The death sentences handed down Monday are considered preliminary. Egypt’s top Islamic authority, the Grand Mufti, will make a final decision of approval or rejection, a step typically a formality.
The verdict was the first against Badie, who faces several additional trials.