An Egyptian military court has sentenced prominent Islamic scholar Yousef Al-Qaradawi to life in prison in absentia over accusations that he killed a police officer, Wael Tahoun, in 2015.
The court also sentenced eight members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, four in absentia.
Defendants who were present may appeal the court ruling at a higher court, but those sentenced in absentia may not appeal until they turn themselves in, which would entail a retrial.
Al-Qaradwai is accused of “taking part in a criminal act through incitement to murder, the dissemination of false news and destruction of public property”.
The court acquitted 27 others in the case, including four members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, Mahmoud Ghuzlan, Saad Elaiwa, Abdelrahman Al-Barr and Taha Wahdan.
In December 2017 the military court referred the defendants’ files to the Mufti, the top official Muslim authority, for a consultation that typically precedes the handing down of the death penalty in Egyptian courts.
In the past years Egyptian courts have referred hundreds of files to the Mufti, a step that precedes a death sentence. Many were rejected when appealed at higher courts.
Since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 coup scores of opponents, including from the Muslim Brotherhood, have been persecuted and accused of terror and violence. The Egyptian state designates the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, which they deny.