U.S. shocked by Egypt’s death sentences but still talking to government

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste of Australia stands in a metal cage during his trial in a court in Cairo March 24, 2014

(Reuters) – The United States said on Monday it was shocked by death sentences handed down on 529 members of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, but said it was still talking to the Egyptian government.

“We’re certainly raising it with the Egyptian government … it’s a pretty shocking number,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a regular news briefing.

“It defies logic that over 529 defendants could be tried in a two-day period in accordance with international standards,” she said.

An Egyptian court issued the death sentences on Monday for murder and other offenses. Most of the defendants were charged with carrying out attacks during clashes that erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo in August.

Harf said the United States still considered its ties with Egypt to be important and added: “We don’t want to completely cut off the relationship…”

For more information on the trial of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, see here.