CAIRO - An Egypt court on Monday sentenced 33 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi to six-year jail terms each for committing acts of violence during an unauthorised protest, judicial sources said.

The accused, deemed by the court to be members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, were found guilty of violent acts during clashes between Islamist demonstrators and opponents of Morsi in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria last December, the sources said.

Morsi, Egypt's first elected and civilian president, was ousted by the army last July. His supporters steadfastly demand his reinstatement and stage regular protests, which often turn violent.

A misdemeanour court in Alexandria found the defendants guilty of assaulting members of security forces, carrying out acts of violence, belonging to an outlawed organisation and taking part in an unauthorised protest, the sources said. The military-installed authorities in November passed a law banning all but police-sanctioned protests. Since then, hundreds of Islamist protesters have been jailed for breaking the law, as have several youth activists who spearheaded the 2011 uprising that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak and who also supported Morsi's ouster.

The court also ordered the defendants to pay a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds (around 5,200 euros/$7,173) each, the sources said. The verdict can be appealed.

The military-installed authorities in December declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a "terrorist" organisation.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian court on Monday rejected a plea for bail by jailed Al-Jazeera journalists, who denied links with the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in a trial that has sparked international condemnation.

The journalists, who have spent nearly 100 days in jail since their arrest, are charged with spreading false news and supporting the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

“Please, get us out of jail, we are tired. We’ve been suffering in prison,” Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, the Cairo bureau chief of Al-Jazeera English, told the judges.

He and his seven co-defendants, dressed in white prison uniforms, were briefly allowed out of the caged dock to address the court, in what Fahmy’s lawyer, Khaled Abu Bakr, described as “an unprecedented move in the history of Egypt’s criminal courts”.

The trial, in which 20 defendants stand accused, has sparked an international outcry and fuelled fears of a media crackdown by the military-installed authorities.

Australian reporter Peter Greste also pleaded to be released on bail, telling the judges “we only desire at this point to continue to fight to clear our names outside prison”.

“We would like to emphasise that we are more than willing to accept any conditions that you impose on us,” he added.

Producer Baher Mohamed said he wanted to be with his wife during her pregnancy.

“My wife is pregnant and she visits me in jail with the children. It is exhausting,” he told the judges.

“I want to be released on bail so I can be by her side.”

- ‘Not only about us’ -

At the end of the session Mohamed told AFP that “we are here representing freedom of expression”.

“It’s not only about us.”

The judges ordered that two defendants who claimed they had been tortured be examined by “independent forensic doctors”.

They then adjourned the trial to April 10 without granting bail to any of the accused.

Prosecutors insist the Al-Jazeera journalists colluded with the Brotherhood, now designated a “terrorist” group, and falsely sought to portray Egypt in a state of “civil war”.

Fahmy said he cannot be considered as a terrorist or a Brotherhood member as he is a “liberal man” who drinks alcohol.

Greste also denied any links with the Brotherhood, saying he and fellow jailed journalists posed no threat to Egypt.

“The idea that I have a connection with the Muslim Brotherhood is frankly preposterous,” Greste told the judges, adding he had arrived in Cairo just two weeks before his arrest.

Eight defendants are in custody, and the rest are either on the run or abroad.

Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Fahmy were arrested on December 29 in a Cairo hotel suite they used as a bureau after their offices were raided by police.

- ‘100 days in prison’ -

Before the proceedings began, Greste’s brother Mike said the award-winning journalist was “strong... but 100 days in prison must have left its effect on him”.

Defence lawyer Mokhles El-Salhy said his clients had been doing their “job professionally and objectively” when they were arrested.

“They were covering violent clashes between protesters and security forces, as were all other channels. They didn’t make it up or fabricate it,” he told AFP.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged the authorities to release the journalists and respect freedom of expression.

“The authorities must stop invoking the fight against terrorism in order to persecute dissident journalists,” RSF’s Lucie Morillon said.

The trial of the journalists from the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera network comes against the backdrop of strained ties between Cairo and Doha since the army ousted Morsi in July.

Qatar was a close ally of Morsi’s government and the Brotherhood, and Egypt accuses the gas-rich Gulf state of backing the Islamist movement, including through Al-Jazeera.

The authorities banned the pan-Arab broadcaster’s Egyptian channel after Morsi’s removal.

Monday’s hearing comes a day after Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim accused an Al-Jazeera editor of helping to leak classified intelligence documents, in a separate espionage trial involving Morsi.

The minister charged that Amin El-Serafi, secretary to Morsi, leaked the documents to Ibrahim Mohamed Hilal, who he said was Al-Jazeera’s news editor and also a Brotherhood member.

Hilal allegedly facilitated a meeting between a Palestinian go-between, a Qatari official and an operative with an unspecified intelligence agency.