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Former Egyptian President Morsi Sentenced to Death

Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first truly-elected president, has been sentenced to death by the government which ousted him in a coup.

AP (“Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sentenced to death“):

An Egyptian court sentenced ousted President Mohammed Morsi and over 100 others to death Saturday over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and later brought Islamists to power for the first time in Egypt.

As is customary in passing capital punishment, Judge Shaaban el-Shami referred his death sentence on Morsi and others to the nation’s top Muslim theologian, or mufti, for his non-binding opinion. El-Shami set June 2 for the next hearing.

Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, was ousted by the military in July 2013 following days of mass street protests by Egyptians demanding that he be removed because of his divisive policies. Morsi’s successor, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, was the military chief at the time and led the ouster. El-Sissi ran for president last year and won the vote in a landslide.

Also sentenced to death with Morsi in the prison break case were 105 defendants, most of them were tried and convicted in absentia. They include some 70 Palestinians. Those tried in absentia in Egypt receive automatic retrials once detained.

Supporters of Morsi and his now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood chanted “down, down with military rule” as el-Shami announced the verdict in the courtroom, a converted lecture hall in the national police academy in an eastern Cairo suburb.

[…]

Amnesty International also denounced the verdicts, which come after several mass death penalty trials criticized by human rights activists and world powers. It called for a retrial, asserting that all evidence gathered from Morsi and other defendants were inadmissible because of what it called their illegal detention prior to trial.

“The death penalty has become the favorite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition,” Amnesty said.

Morsi already is serving a 20-year sentence following his conviction on April 21 on charges linked to the killing of protesters outside a Cairo presidential palace in December 2012.

The former president escaped a death sentence in a separate case before el-Shami related to allegations that Morsi, several of his aides and leaders of the Brotherhood allegedly passed state secrets to foreign groups, including Hamas group and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, during his one year in office. A total of 16 senior Brotherhood leaders and aides were sentenced to death by el-Shami in that case. The 16 include one woman, Sondos Assem, a presidential press aide who is now a fugitive.

Sadly, Egypt is likely worse off now than it was before the Arab Spring.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.