Morsi could receive death sentence in Tuesday's Ittihadeya verdict: Defence team
Marina Barsoum, , Monday 20 Apr 2015
Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi could be sentenced to life in prison or even death on Tuesday, in the first of four major cases against him

On Tuesday, the Cairo Criminal Court is set to announce the verdict in one offourmajor trials deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi currently faces.

Why is Morsi being tried in what is widely known as the 'Ittihadeya Palace case'?

On 5 December 2012, during Morsi's rule, opposition forces rallied in front of the Ittihadeya presidential palace to peacefully protest a November 2012presidential decree with which Morsihad sought to place his orders above judicial oversight.

The following morning, hundreds of Morsi supporters stormed a small overnight anti-decree sit-in camp. This prompted thousands of Morsi's opponents to demonstrate again at the palace, resulting in clashes with his followers.

At least ten people were killed, including El-Husseini Abu-Deif, a 33-year-old journalist at the weekly El-Fagr newspaper, who was covering the protest.

The prosecution has charged Morsi and 14 other defendants with killing protestors, possessing weapons, and “acts of thuggery” in the dispersal of the sit-in that followed.

Egypt’s prosecution argued in court that Morsi should be convicted of premeditated murder citing his attempt to order the interior minister and presidential guard to violentally disperse the protestors as intention to kill. Both refused to follow his orders.

Who else is being tried in the case?

Defendants in the case include Asad Al-Shikha, Morsi’s former deputy chief of staff, Ahmed Abdel Atty, former head of president's office, Mohamed El-Beltagy, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, outspoken Islamic preacher Wagdy Ghoneim and Essam El-Erian, deputy head of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Freedom Party.

Four of the 15 defendants are being tried in absentia, Osama El-Helw, a lawyer from Morsi's defence team, told Ahram Online.

In what other cases is Morsi being tried?

The former Islamist leader, who was overthrown in July 2013, is entangled in four other court cases, over charges of “collaborating with foreign organizations to commit acts of terrorism in Egypt”, leaking documents to Qatar, breaking out of prison in 2011, and insulting the judiciary during one of the trials, according to a second member of his defence team, lawyer Montaser El-Zayat.

Will this be the first verdict against Morsi?

Yes, it will be the first verdict in a case against ousted president Morsi.

How does Morsi reply to the charges against him?

Whenever he is given the chance to speak, Morsi stresses that he is still the "legitimate president of Egypt" and that he does not recognise the authority of the courts. He rejects all charges directed against him.

What could be the outcome of this trial?

According to the Egyptian law, the charges against thedefendants in this casecould lead to sentences of life in prison or even todeathpenalty, El-Helwsaid.

What do Morsi's defence team expect?

According El-Zayat, the court has appointed a different lawyer other than Morsi’s defence team to defend Morsi in court, as in all other cases against him.

“Unfortunately, there is no coordination between the defence team and the appointed [defence] lawyers,” said El-Zayat, who explained that his team simply attends sessions without making any input.

“The lawyer appointed in the main case, the one tomorrow, did a good job,”he howeveradded of the defense lawyer appointed in the Ittihadeya case.

"The defendants did not appear in any the videos included in the case as evidence against them,” El-Helwtold Ahram Online. “We pray to God that they will be freed in this case.”

Would Morsi be the first Egyptian president to be sentenced to life in jail?

No. Eighty-six-year-old former autocrat Hosni Mubarak was previously handed a life sentence for killing protestors in the 2011 revolution and other corruption charges.

However, the charges of “killing protesters” were dropped, and he was acquitted of the corruption charges.

If Morsi was sentenced to death, what would be the Muslim Brotherhood’s reaction?

Over the past months, the Brotherhood's ability to rally supporters has decreased after the Egyptian government’s wide crackdown on its members and alleged supporters.

Interior minister Magdy Abdel Ghafar has however announced a security plan forcourtverdict, now expected to be announced on Tuesday.