An Egyptian court Tuesday began the mass trial of 683 Muslim Brotherhood defendants, including the group's top leader Mohamed Badie, on charges including murder, media reported.
The trial comes a day after the same court in the Upper Egyptian Minya province sentenced 529 supporters of the Islamist group to death for attacking police stations and killing an officer, Xinhua reported citing official news agency MENA.
Roughly 1,200 defendants in Minya are accused of attempted murder of several policemen, attacking police premises in Mattai district, after the dispersal of a major sit-in staged by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo last August.
The Islamist suspects were also accused of breaking into governmental institutions, shooting randomly on security men, stealing police weapons, and burning police stations, apart from terrorising local residents and disturbing public peace.
Though Monday's death sentences will be appealed at the Court of Cassation, the verdict drew condemnation of rights groups, the US and the European Union, deeming the rulings the "fastest" ones as they were issued in just two days with the largest number sentenced to death.
Security forces intensified their presence outside the court, stopped adjacent stores from opening and halted traffic in the surrounding streets as precautionary measures.