A group of 21 women and girls handed heavy prison sentences for taking part in a rally supporting deposed President Mohamed Morsi, have begun their legal appeals in court.

The 14 adult women had been handed 11-year jail terms and the seven children sentenced to juvenile detention last month, shocking even supporters of the military-installed government.

In the adult court on Saturday, the 14 women were ushered into the defendants' cage, dressed in prison-issue white and holding pink roses.

They had scrawled the word "freedom" in black marker on their palms.

The appeal hearing for the minors was held in an adjacent courtroom.

They had been convicted of taking part in "a violent protest" demanding Morsi's reinstatement following his ousting by the army in July.

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"Some of the women said they weren't taking part in any demonstration, and were just passing," Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Cairo, said.

Anas Abu Eissa, father of one of the jailed schoolgirls, told Al Jazeera she had nothing but school books in her bag when she was arrested.

The court, however, convicted her of possessing weapons, engaging in acts of violence and encroaching on public and private property.

The arrest of the women came in the same week as a restrictive new law against protests was enacted across Egypt.

The initial trial took just four hours to find them guilty, said our correspondent, but it remains unclear how long the appeal hearings might last.

"If the appeal is successful, they could be free today," our correspondent said.

There was a heavy police presence outside the court complex in the coastal city of Alexandria on Saturday, where Morsi's Islamist supporters have clashed repeatedly with opponents and security forces.

An adviser to Adly Mansour, Egypt's interim president, said he may pardon the women after the legal process ends.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies