Egypt Orders New Mass Trials of 919

CAIRO (AP) -

Egypt’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday ordered two new mass trials for 919 suspected Islamists on charges that include murder, despite international criticism of an earlier trial that issued death sentences against hundreds of defendants.

Students, most of them Islamists, held protests Wednesday in several universities, turning into clashes with security forces that left one 18-year-old student dead.

The new trials will be held in Minya province, south of Cairo, where a judge on Monday sentenced 529 defendants to death on charges of killing a police officer during an attack on a police station last summer.

The verdict brought an international outcry over the cursory trial, which lasted only two sessions in which lawyers said they were denied the right to make their case or question witnesses.

The new trials bring the total number of defendants to 2,147 in four trials. They are connected to a wave of violence in mid-August after security forces broke up two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo. The same judge who issued the death sentences Monday will preside over the two new trials.