Cairo: An Egyptian court sentenced 10 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death in absentia on Saturday, but postponed sentencing of the movement`s leader and other senior members on trial in the same case, judicial sources said.
Those sentenced were convicted on charges including inciting violence and blocking a major road north of Cairo during protests after the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July.
All 10 were assumed to be in hiding amid a state crackdown on the group since Mursi`s ouster. One of those sentenced was Abdul Rahman al-Barr, a member of the Brotherhood`s Guidance Council, the movement`s executive board.
Death sentence recommendations in Egypt are passed on to the country`s Mufti, the highest religious authority. His opinion can be ignored by the court. The rulings can be appealed.
Judge Hassan Fareed said the verdict for the rest of the defendants would be announced at a hearing on July 5.
Those 38 defendants include the Islamist movement`s General Guide Mohamed Badie and senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy, along with former ministers from Mursi`s government.
Egypt`s biggest political force until last year, the Brotherhood has been driven underground and declared a terrorist organisation.
Badie was among 683 people sentenced to death in April.
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and members of the security forces have been killed since Mursi`s ouster. Secular activists are also in jail. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said last month 16 journalists were imprisoned in Egypt.
The military-backed government in place since Mursi`s ouster accuses the Brotherhood of turning to violence. The group denies that accusation.
Critics of the judiciary say it is a tool in a state crackdown against dissent. Security forces detained thousands of Brotherhood supporters after Mursi`s overthrow. More recently, courts have sentenced hundreds of the accused, often after brief hearings where scant evidence is offered by the prosecution, rights groups say.