Egyptian Court Sentences Former President To 20 Years
An Egyptian Court has sentenced former President Mohammed Morsi, who was deposed in a July 2013 coup, to 20 years in prison for his alleged role in the deaths of civilians during protests while he was in office:
CAIRO — An Egyptian criminal court on Tuesday sentenced ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison on charges linked to the killing of protesters in 2012, the first verdict to be issued against the country’s first freely elected leader.
The conviction, which can be appealed, and muted Islamist reaction following it underscore the dramatic downfall of Morsi and Egypt’s once-powerful Muslim Brotherhood group. However, Morsi escaped receiving a death sentence in the case, which Islamists derided as a “farce.”
Morsi and the Brotherhood swiftly rose to power in elections after autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s 2011 ouster, only to find themselves imprisoned a year later when millions protested against them for abusing power and the military overthrew the government.
But as Mubarak and members of his government increasingly find themselves acquitted of criminal charges, Morsi and the Brotherhood are at the receiving end of heavy-handed sentences.
Tuesday’s verdict sparked no immediate street protests, reflecting the toll of a heavy security crackdown on any show of dissent — either by Islamists or secular-leaning activists.
During the hearing, Judge Ahmed Youssef issued his verdict as Morsi and other defendants in the case — mostly Brotherhood leaders — stood in a soundproof glass cage inside a makeshift courtroom at Egypt’s national police academy. Seven of the accused were tried in absentia.
In addition to Morsi, 12 Brotherhood leaders and Islamist supporters, including Mohammed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian, also were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Youssef dropped murder charges involved in the case and said the sentences were linked to the “show of force” and unlawful detention associated with the case.
The case stems from violence outside the presidential palace in December 2012. Morsi’s supporters attacked opposition protesters demanding that Morsi call off a referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution. Clashes developed into deadly confrontations overnight that killed at least 10 people.
In a statement, Amnesty International called the case flawed and full of loopholes, while describing the trial as “sham.”
“Convicting Mohammed Morsi, despite fundamental flaws in the legal process and what seems to be at best flimsy evidence produced in court under a gag order, utterly undermines this verdict,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
Given the policies of the military government, now led by President al-Sisi, this conviction and sentence should not be that surprising. Morsi’s fate was sealed the moment he was deposed. Meanwhile, Hosni Mubarak and his cronies have seen the far more serious charges against them largely dismissed and are living lives of relative luxury. It pays to have the right friends, I suppose.