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Egypt court upholds death sentence against ex-president Morsi

The same court on Tuesday also issued a new life imprisonment verdict against the ousted Islamist president

Ahram Online , Tuesday 16 Jun 2015
Mohammed Morsi
Egypt's ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi gestures in a defendants cage at the Police Academy courthouse in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)
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A Cairo court on Tuesday sentenced ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to death and to life in jail in two different trials, as Egyptian courts continue to rule in cases against alleged supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group from which he hails.

The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Morsi and five others, including top Brotherhood figures Mohamed Badie, Saad El-Katatni and Essam El-Erian, to death over the 2011 Wadi Natroun prison break case.

The defendants had been accused with "damaging and setting fire to prison buildings", "murder", "attempted murder", "looting prison weapons depots" and "releasing prisoners" while escaping from the prison outside Cairo during the January 2011 uprising.

The court sentenced 21 people to life in prison in the case, including Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazy and leading Brotherhood figure Mohamed El-Beltagy.

In mid-May, the court had issued a preliminary death sentence against 106 defendants, sending their files to the Grand Mufti, a senior Muslim cleric, for a consultative review as required by Egyptian law. His decision is not legally binding.

After his review, the court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence for 99 people, including 93 in absentia, of whom Muslim cleric Youssef El-Qaradawi.

It also sentenced eight people to two years in prison and one person to three years in absentia.

The court also ruled that defendants should pay the interior ministry LE 250 million as compensation.

A total of 129 people are on trial in this case, with only 27 in custody.

The verdict can still be appealed.

In civil trials, the general prosecution usually appeals death sentences. The second verdict can still be appealed at the Court of Cassation.

It is now expected that Morsi will appear in court in his other ongoing trials wearing the red execution garb.   

'Espionage'

In an earlier separate announcement on Tuesday, the court had sentenced Morsi and 16 others, including Brotherhood figures Mohamed Badie and Essam El-Erian to life in prison, in an espionage case.

In the case, prosecutors charged Morsi and 35 other defendants with conspiring with foreign powers -- including Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards -- to destabilise Egypt.

According to Egypt's penal code, life sentences are 25 years.

It also sentenced Brotherhood leading figures Khairat El-Shater, Mohamed El-Beltagy and Ahmed Abd El-Aty to death.

Twelve other people were also sentenced to death in absentia.

Meanwhile, ex-presidential aide Refaa El-Tahtawy and Brotherhood figure Assad El-Sheikha received seven-year prison sentences.

The verdict can be appealed.

During his announcement, the judge rejected a report submitted by Morsi saying that the court lacks the jurisdiction to try him, claiming that he is still the rightful president of Egypt. 

Other trials

In April, Morsi received a 20-year sentence for inciting violence in the 2012 deadly clashes outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace while he was still president.

This too can still be appealed.

Meanwhile, two other trials are ongoing.

In one, the former president is accused of insulting the judiciary, while in the other he and 10 others, including leading figures from the Brotherhood, face charges of leaking classified documents to Qatar.

Morsi was elected in June 2012 and removed from power in July 2013 by Egypt's military, following mass protests against him.

Many top Muslim Brotherhood figures are on trial for inciting violence and murder, and some have received life sentences. 

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