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Death Sentence Upheld for Leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

Cairo — An Egyptian judge confirmed the death sentences of the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and nearly 200 supporters on Saturday, in a trial of Islamists who held power in Egypt for a year, but were overthrown last July.

Mohamed Badie and 182 other defendants were sentenced to death for the slaying of a policeman, disturbing public order, burning and storming a police station, and attacking public installations, according to defense lawyer Khalid al Commey. The violence erupted following the ousting of the Brotherhood's President Mohamed Mursi.

The country's new president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has been harsh on the former regime. The trial against 682 defendants was referred two months before the decision was handed down.

The court withdrew the death penalty for 496 of those who were charged and ordered life imprisonment for four others, including two women, al Commey said.

The preliminary sentences triggered an outcry from Western government and human rights groups.

Amnesty International said the rulings “expose how arbitrary and selective Egypt’s criminal justice system has become. The court has displayed a complete contempt for the most basic principles of a fair trial and has utterly destroyed its credibility.”

The verdicts can be appealed before a higher court within 60 days.

— Charlene Gubash, with NBC News' Elisha Fieldstadt in New York