News Wrap: Egyptian court sentences hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death
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GWEN IFILL: A sitting member of Congress, New York Representative Michael Grimm, was arrested today on a range of federal charges. The two-term Republican pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment, including mail fraud, wire fraud and tax fraud. It alleges he under-reported and concealed wages for workers at a Manhattan restaurant. Grimm is a former FBI agent who’s also under investigation for campaign finance violations.
Suicide bombers killed at least 50 people across Iraq today, ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary elections. The worst attack came at a Kurdish rally 100 miles northeast of Baghdad. Thirty people died there. Other attackers hit polling stations where soldiers and security forces began casting ballots. Prisoners and hospital workers also voted today. The national elections are the first in Iraq since us troops withdrew in 2011.
Hundreds more Islamists have been sentenced to death in Egypt in the latest mass trial of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. A court in Cairo imposed the penalty today in a case stemming from violent riots last August.
Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News reports.
JONATHAN MILLER: The Egyptian judiciary on trial today, as a notorious hanging judge broke his own grim record, recommending that 688 men be sentenced to death in a trial that lasted 10 minutes.
Saeed Youssef today also upheld the death penalty on 37 of the 529 he condemned last month, the remainder commuted to 25 years in jail.
Distress among relatives outside the Cairo courtroom this morning. You can hear others screaming as this mother talks of her son.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I swear to God, he did nothing. The officer came and arrested him when he was asleep in bed.
JONATHAN MILLER: Among others sentenced to hang, the 70-year-old spiritual guide of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, on charges of inciting violence.
Lawyers and human rights groups today condemned the trial. Not fair, they said, no due process.
MOHAMED ABDEL WAHAB, Defense lawyer (through interpreter): The right to a defense was breached. In a normal case with a defendant who killed someone, it would take one or two years. But, here, it was wrapped up in one session.
JONATHAN MILLER: Take stock of just what has been happening in Egypt. Less than a year ago, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi was president. Today, he is in jail; 2,500 of his supporters are dead, the movement designated a terrorist organization.
By this time next month, General Al-Sisi, the ex-military intelligence chief under the dictator Hosni Mubarak, is expected to have easily won presidential elections. Back to the future.
Today, the 6th of April democratic activist group which spearheaded the revolt against Mubarak three years ago was outlawed. Its two leaders are already in jail.
GWEN IFILL: All but 68 of those sentenced today were tried in absentia. The judge’s decision will now be appealed to Egypt’s top Islamic official, the grand mufti.
In the Central African Republic, there’s word that Muslim rebels shot up a hospital over the weekend, killing at least 16 people. Three were local workers with Doctors Without Borders. It happened in a town in the remote northwestern section of the country, near the border with Chad. The rebels have regrouped in that region after being driven from the capital city of Bangui.
President Obama is praising and defending a 10-year agreement with the Philippines, allowing U.S. forces greater access to military bases. The pact was signed as he arrived in Manila to meet with President Benigno Aquino. The news also sparked protests by hundreds of Filipino activists opposed to any renewed U.S. military presence. They burned effigies of both leaders.
Mr. Obama maintained the move will be good for the region.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to be very clear: The United States is not trying to reclaim old bases or build new bases. At the invitation of the Philippines, American service members will rotate through Filipino facilities, will train and exercise more together, so that we’re prepared for a range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and natural disasters.
GWEN IFILL: The agreement is also aimed at countering aggressive Chinese moves in the region.
It’s been five weeks since the Washington State mudslide, and, today, authorities officially ended the active search for bodies. The death toll in the shattered community of Oso remains at 41. Two people are still listed as missing.
A forensic team began exploring a tiny church in Madrid today, hunting the remains of Miguel de Cervantes. Spain’s greatest writer died in obscurity in 1616, years after his published novel, classic novel about the eccentric knight Don Quixote. The search for his coffin will radar to examine the grounds of the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 87 points to close at 16,448. The Nasdaq fell a point to close at 4,074. And the S&P 500 was up six to finish at 1,869.