Egyptian court sentences 75 people to death over 2013 demonstration

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie stands behind bars during a trial in Cairo on February 28, 2015.

(CNN)An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 75 people to death for participating in a 2013 demonstration in support of deposed-President Mohamed Morsy, and referred their cases to the country's Grand Mufti for a final decision, according to state-run news agency Ahram Online.

The defendants, which included members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were arrested and tried for participating in a sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares in Cairo, to protest the removal of Morsy, a former Brotherhood leader and the country's first democratically elected president.
The month-long protest culminated in mass violence, when Egyptian security forces -- under the command of now-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi -- attempted to clear thousands of demonstrators by using automatic weapons, armored personnel carriers and military bulldozers.
The government's actions were widely condemned by international rights organizations. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch found at least 817 people were killed in the violence.
    The Egyptian government has since banned the Muslim Brotherhood, declaring it a terrorist organization.
    The 75 defendants sentenced to death on Saturday are accused of "attacking citizens, resisting authorities, destroying public property and buildings, and possessing firearms and Molotov cocktails," according to Ahram Online.
    Among those sentenced are Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and prominent members Essam El-Erian, Mohamed El-Beltagy and Wagdy Ghoneim, Ahram reported.
    The government is prosecuting 739 people for participation in the protests