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Egyptians convicted ahead of presidential election

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 file photo, Egypt s military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi smiles as he speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia. Egypt s likely next president, retired military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, says ties with the West and the United States will improve after elections May 26-27, 2014, confident that a strong show of public support will prove that Egyptians wanted his ouster of the country s Islamist president, which threw relations between the two allies into their worst strains ever. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File) CAI105

Associated Press

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 file photo, Egypt s military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi smiles as he speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Moscow, Russia. Egypt s likely next president, retired military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, says ties with the West and the United States will improve after elections May 26-27, 2014, confident that a strong show of public support will prove that Egyptians wanted his ouster of the country s Islamist president, which threw relations between the two allies into their worst strains ever. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File) CAI105

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.

Egyptians convicted ahead of presidential election 05/24/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 24, 2014 8:32pm]
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