Egypt court adjourns decision on Morsi's fate to 16 June

Ahram Online , Tuesday 2 Jun 2015

Mohamed Morsi was given a preliminary death sentence by the court in May, but it has yet to be confirmed

morsi
Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi in court during trial. (Photo: Reuters)

An Egyptian court on Tuesday adjourned to 16 June its final verdict on ousted president Mohamed Morsi in a prison break case in which he was sentenced to death, and said it would announce its ruling against the former leader in a separate espionage case on the same date.

On 16 May, the court issued a preliminary death sentence against Morsi and 105 other defendants over charges of planning jailbreaks and assaulting police, referring the sentences to the grand mufti--a senior Muslim cleric-- for a consultative review as required by Egyptian law.

On Tuesday, the presiding judge said the court had only received the mufti's recommendations on the initial verdicts on Tuesday morning, implying that the three-judge panel required more time to study the mufti's opinion.

The mufti's recommendations regarding death sentences are not legally binding on the court.

The court on Tuesday also adjourned its ruling in a separate case of espionage where Morsi and 35 other defendants are accused of with conspiring with foreign powers - including the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards - to destabilise Egypt.

Last month, the court issued preliminary death sentence to Brotherhood figures Mohamed El-Beltagy and Khairat El-Shater, along with 14 others, on charges of spying for Hamas. 

The death sentences against Morsi and his co-defendants provoked condemnation from the UN, the EU, the US, as well as local and international rights groups.

Cairo responded by arguing that criticism reflects a "lack of objectivity" as the defendants allegedly committed violent and terrorist crimes, and argued that the criticism constitutes interference in Egyptian affairs.

The May death sentence was not the first verdict issued against Morsi. He was sentenced in April to 20 years in jail for inciting violence during 2012 protests against his rule.

In the Wadi Natroun jailbreak case, the prosecution charged Morsi and 130 co-defendants, many tried in absentia, with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, looting prison weapons depots and releasing prisoners while escaping from the prison during the January 2011 revolution.

According to the prosecution, the prisoners who escaped include members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezbollah, as well as jihadists and criminals.

Prosecutors said that over 800 fighters from Gaza had infiltrated Egypt and used rocket-propelled grenades and weapons to storm three prisons, abducting four policemen and killing several others.

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