World Bulletin / News Desk
"The criminal court of Zagazig [capital of Egypt’s northern Sharqiya province] sentenced 15 people -- in absentia -- to life behind bars and three others to 15 years in prison," the source told Anadolu Agency anonymously due to restrictions on talking to media.
"Another 18 were acquitted due to a lack of evidence," the source said.
The defendants had been charged with "inciting violence" and attempting to storm a Sharqiya police station in early 2015.
Gouda Azab, a lawyer for the defendants, said the sentences could still be appealed and that those who had been tried in absentia would receive retrials if they turned themselves in to the authorities.
"The charges against the defendants are false; most are based on false claims," the lawyer asserted.
Egypt has been wracked by turmoil since mid-2013, when the army ousted and imprisoned Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely-elected president and a leading member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood group.
Since the 2013 coup, the Egyptian authorities have waged a relentless crackdown on Brotherhood members and Morsi’s supporters, killing hundreds and throwing tens of thousands behind bars.
In late 2013, Egypt’s post-coup authorities outlawed the Brotherhood, designating it as a "terror organization".