A Cairo criminal court issued Saturday preliminary death sentences against six of ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s co-defendants in what is known as the Qatar espionage case.
The court is yet to issue a verdict on Morsi, but this likely means that he won’t be sentenced to death in this case.
The verdict will be either confirmed or reduced on 18 June after consultation with Egypt's mufti, the highest Sunni cleric, whose opinion is not mandatory to the court.
The defendants sentenced to death are five men; Ahmed Abdo Afify, Mohamed Adel El-Kelany, Ahmed Ismail, Alaa Omar and Ibrahim Helal as well as one woman, Asmaa El-Khateeb.
The court will reveal Morsi’s verdict, along with verdicts on three other co-defendants, in the June court session once it deliberates the Mufti’s consultation.
Once the criminal court issues its verdict, Morsi and his co-defendants can appeal in front of the appeals court.
Morsi, who was ousted in July 2013, was charged with using his post to leak classified documents to Qatar with the help of secretaries and Muslim Brotherhood figures.
Morsi and the head of his office, Ahmed Abdel-Ati, were also charged with leaking secret information on general and military intelligence, the armed forces, its armaments and other state secrets. The prosecution argued that the two used their positions to pass the files from the presidential offices to Amin El-Serafy, a presidential secretary, who then passed them to his daughter, Karima, who gave them to agents to give to the Qataris.
The other defendants – who include Ahmed Afify, a documentary producer; Mohamed Kilany, a flight attendant; Ahmed Ismail, a teaching assistant; and Khaled Radwan and Asmaa El-Khatib, two journalists at pro-Brotherhood TV channels – were charged with turning over copies of the classified documents to two staffers of the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera and an unknown Qatari intelligence officer.
Three of the 10 defendants are being tried in absentia.
The espionage case is the fourth major trial of Morsi on various criminal charges since his ouster in 2013.
Morsi has already been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in the "Ittihadiya case," received a death sentence in the Wadi Natroun jailbreak case, and life in jail (25 years in prison) over leaks to foreign groups, including militant groups Hamas and Hizbullah.
All other sentences are currently being appealed.