CAIRO — An Egyptian court convicted 20 students from an Islamist university in Cairo on charges of rioting during a protest last year in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, and sentenced most of them to five years in prison on Saturday, a judicial official said.
The verdicts came two days ahead of Egypt's presidential election, which former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is widely expected to win. El-Sissi led the military when it ousted Morsi last July, after days of mass street protests against his rule.
Egypt's military-backed authorities have cracked down heavily on Morsi's supporters. The campaign has seen more than 16,000 people jailed and facing trial, including the former president and leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood group.
Authorities are expected to deploy an estimated 400,000 policemen and soldiers during the presidential election on Monday and Tuesday to prevent violence.
Islamist students have been at the forefront of near-daily rallies denouncing Morsi's ouster. The government has used a protest law passed last year that bans rallies without prior police permission, imposing heavy sentences and fine on violators.