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Egypt court issues preliminary death sentence to Morsi in 'jailbreak case'

Court sent its initial ruling of death against Morsi on charges of murder and attempted murder in 2011 prison escape case to grand mufti for review

Ahram Online , Saturday 16 May 2015
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File Photo: Ousted president Mohamed Morsi (Photo: Reuters)
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Cairo Criminal Court on Saturday issued a preliminary death sentence to former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and 105 other defendants in the trial known in the Egyptian media as the Natroun jailbreak case.

The court has sent its decision in the Natroun case to the country's grand mufti, a senior Muslim cleric, for a consultative review as required by Egyptian law, setting 2 June as a date for a final verdict.

The court also issued a preliminary death sentence to Brotherhood leaders Mohamed El-Beltagy and Khairat El-Shater along with 14 others in the trial known as the "Hamas espionage case." 

The court also sent its decision in this case to the grand mufti for a consultative review. The deadline for a final verdict is also 2 June.

In the Natroun jailbreak case, the prosecution charged Morsi and co-defendants with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, looting prison weapons depots and releasing prisoners.

The prisoners, who broke out of jail in 2011, include members of the Palestinian Hamas movement, Lebanon's Hezbullah, jihadists, Muslim Brotherhood members and varied criminals, according to the prosecution.

Prosecutors also said that over 800 fighters from Gaza had infiltrated Egypt, using RPGs and heavy armaments to storm three prisons, abducting four policemen and killing several others, along with inmates.

In the espionage case, prosecutors had charged Morsi and 35 others with conspiring with foreign powers — including the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbullah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard — to destabilise Egypt.

The court did not on Saturday issue a ruling against Morsi and 18 others in the case and scheduled the announcement for 2 June, suggesting that the former president, unlike those sentenced to death in the case today, will not receive a death sentence in this case.

Mufti to consider death verdicts

Although the grand mufti's opinion is non-binding on the court, Egyptian judges have traditionally adjusted their final rulings in accordance with the mufti's recommendations.

In March 2014, a Minya court issued preliminary death sentences against 529 Morsi supporters who were accused of murder and attempted murder, referring the verdict to the mufti for consultation.

Following the mufti's refusal to approve the sentences, the court issued a final verdict sentencing only 37 defendants to death and 492 to life in prison.

In April 2014, the same court  issued preliminary death sentences against 683 Morsi supporters who were accused of murder and attempted murder, referring the verdict to the mufti.

Once again, following the mufti's objections, court issued a final ruling of capital punishment against only 183 of the defendants. The defendants retain the right to appeal any final verdict.

Both Minya verdicts were recently overturned by appeal courts which ordered a new trial.

First death sentence for an Egyptian president

Saturday's capital punishment ruling against Morsi makes him the first president in Egypt's history to face the possibility of death by hanging if the court ratifies its initial decision on 2 June or if he loses a planned appeal.

Morsi has been charged with a number of offences since his ouster in 2013, and has received a number of sentences. 

In April he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for inciting violence and ordering the arrest and torture of demonstrators during the December 2012 clashes between his supporters and opponents. 

Other leading Brotherhood figures sentenced to death on Saturday in the espionage case include Mahmoud Ezzat, who is not in custody. Ezzat has been acting Brotherhood leader since August 2013, following the arrest of Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie.

Other Brotherhood leaders sentenced to death in the jailbreak case include Islamist preacher Youssef El-Qaradawi, who resides in Qatar; Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie; former speaker of the house Saad El-Katatni; and vice president of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian.

In April also, Brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie, Omar Malek, the son of leading Brotherhood member and businessman Hassan Malek, as well as leading member Saad El-Husseiny were among fourteen Islamists who received the capital punishment in a separate murder trial. The verdict in this case has been appealed.

Hundreds of members of the Brotherhood, which was banned a few months after Morsi's ouster, face trials on various criminal charges including murder, attempted murder, inciting violence and breaking the protest law. 

Critics respond

Leading Muslim Brotherhood member and a former minister under Morsi, Amr Darrag, quickly condemned the verdict and called on the international community to take action.

"This is a political verdict and represents a murder crime that is about to be committed, and it should be stopped by the international community," Darrag, co-founder of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters in Istanbul.

The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi coalition, issued a statement following the verdict saying that they "reject the principle of prosecuting the country's elected president Mohamed Morsi."

The statement added that the charge of espionage should be directed instead at the "leaders of the military coup", who it claimed "jeopardised Egypt's security in favour of Israel."

Palestinian Hamas, the sister organisation of Egypt's Brotherhood, condemned the death sentences meted out against a number of its members in the jailbreak case, describing the verdicts as "unfortunate and shocking."

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said in a statement that the verdict was based on "false information", adding that some of the convicted had died before the Egyptian revolution such as "martyrs Tayseer Abu-Senema and Hossam El-Sanea," while others have been in the "prisons of the occupation for years," such as Hassan Salama, who has been imprisoned for 19 years in Israel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the death sentence handed out to Morsi, saying it was like a return to "ancient Egypt", AFP reported.

"The popularly-elected president of Egypt... has unfortunately been sentenced to death. Egypt is turning back into ancient Egypt," Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul, accusing the West of "turning a blind eye" to what he described as the 2013 coup that ousted Morsi.

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13



NewEgypt123
16-05-2015 11:48pm
216-
164+
A Poor Precedent
This decision to sentence Morsi to death sets a very dangerous precedent in Egypt. Killing a former leader should not be done. Kings do not kill kings. Even if the majority of Egyptians are against Morsi, his death will cause problems in Egypt. He did lead some Egyptians because after all he was elected to the presidency. What will happen the day he is executed? His followers will try to tear the country apart. He should be given a life sentence, not death. This alternative will take the trigger event away and deny his followers the opportunity to protest.
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12



A Pass-Byer
16-05-2015 08:42pm
5641-
4397+
Finally, something is happening.
When I heard the news, frankly I didn't believe it. I though he'd do some time but a life sentence ? Wow, I can't describe how glad I'm now. He's a traitor, he got a chance to rule Egypt but what he did were nothing but trying to harden his roots as a president, getting money out of nowhere by selling/renting Egypt, financing terrorism, massacre/imprison those who defied him - he lacked the enough power to do this fully though- and killing protesters. All what El-Sisi did was axing the trunk of tree before its roots deepen any further. What he did was a necessary. One last thing, it's a matter of fact, any regime that based on a religion ought to be a failure. We're Muslims yet there's something calls civilization. Religions and Civilization Don't mix. It's ok to be religious, but it's bad to enforce your beliefs on others, not to mention a whole country. PS:I'm Muslim, I love Egypt, I don't support any party, I support anyone who loves this country, I didn't elect ElSisi nor Morsi.
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11



Farhan
16-05-2015 08:34pm
154-
1220+
All the Egyptian Judges, government, president need to be killed
These people are crooks and terrorists.
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10



Farhan
16-05-2015 08:34pm
170-
1217+
All the Egyptian Judges, government, president need to be killed
These people are crooks and terrorists.
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Iman
18-05-2015 04:28am
7-
0+
Why don't you join them @the gallows?
Long live Egypt!
Iman
18-05-2015 04:26am
127-
0+
Alhamduallah!
Allah bless El-Sisi, military, and judges for "enjoining the good, and forbidding the evil". This is what Allah (SWT), and His Messenger Prophet Mohammed (SAW) commanded. It looks like the REAL Muslims are the Egyptian Government, NOT MB terrorist, traitor, Kharwarj thugs! Morsi and his gang of murderous loons are reaping what they sowed. Terrorists need to be treated as such with absolutely NO MERCY AT ALL! My only complaint is that this process is taking so long, and why not give them the Sharia punishment? They should have their limbs cut off on opposite sides, eye's gouged out, and thrown into the middle of the barren desert to die, with no one to help them!
9



THE KHAZARS ARE ANTI SEMITIC
16-05-2015 06:55pm
105-
29+
maybe both????
O.K.,Morsi sold SINAI to HAMAS [actually to the KHAZARS] ,he deserves it !EGYPT is HOLY ,nobody allow to touch it!BUT ,how about MUBARAK? WHERE IS THE FAIR PLAY??????
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8



expat
16-05-2015 06:15pm
237-
5+
i remember this mursi on a party demonstration before the vote for him as president
when he and his friends from ghaza were stating al khouds,al khouds, tomorrow al khouds...yeah,this kind of guy will install,if led, a state same as the crazy guy at the bosporus and leads egypt to war and destruction. Good,he is out of power, still would have been better to sentence this puppet of the brotherhood leaders to live
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7



Al ChupaCabra
16-05-2015 06:09pm
65-
6+
Few choices
Glad I am not the presiding judge, because the fella will be marked by the Brotherhood for the rest of his life. keeping him alive is a problem, killing him is also a problem, Glad i am not Sisi. Just Si senor!
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6



HA
16-05-2015 04:32pm
72-
1198+
REAL FACE OF COURT
now real face of court come out and world understand how indipedent court Egypt have .other story also come out where court getting order to make a bloody decision
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5



Aly Sadek - Toronto-Canada
16-05-2015 03:17pm
2426-
1915+
Egypt...EL SISI
...ALLAH AKBAR...HANG THE GANGSTERS..THIS IS HOW YOU DEAL WITH A CANCER OR A VIRUS..
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4



khan
16-05-2015 01:40pm
234-
314+
not court only butcher
not court butcher and casino army gambling place .
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