Egypt sentences Mohamed Morsi to death

Verdict against former president sent to Grand Mufti for confirmation after he is convicted for 2011 mass prison break.

An Egypt court has sentenced former President Mohamed Morsi to death for a mass prison break in 2011, prompting immediate condemnations from Amnesty International and the Turkish President.

The court ruled on Saturday that the sentencing of Morsi and 105 others will be referred to the Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in Egypt, for confirmation.Many of those sentenced were tried in absentia.

The court will pronounce its final decision on June 2.

International condemnation

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticised Egypt over the decision and accused the West of hypocrisy, according to the state-run Anatolian news agency said.

“While the West is abolishing the death penalty, they are just watching the continuation of death sentences in Egypt. They don’t do anything about it,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

Human rights group Amnesty International said the trial was a “charade” and based on “void procedures”.

“Condemning Mohamed Morsi to death after more grossly unfair trials shows a complete disregard for human rights…he was held for months incommunicado without judicial oversight and that he didn’t have a lawyer to represent him,” the organisation said in a statement.

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The judiciary is doing its part to cement a new political reality in Egypt, one that seeks to silence all dissent and restore the full strength of the authoritarian system that was in place for decades

Abdullah al-Arian, Georgetown University

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Abdullah al-Arian, assistant professor of History at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service in Qatar, told Al Jazeera the death sentences handed down on Saturday would “come as no surprise to anyone who has been following developments in Egypt over the past two years”.

“With these highly politicized trials that contravene all standards of justice, the judiciary is doing its part to cement a new political reality in Egypt, one that seeks to silence all dissent and restore the full strength of the authoritarian system that was in place for decades,” al-Arian said.

Another analyst, Yehia Ghanem, a former managing editor of the Al Ahram  newspaper, told Al Jazeera the death sentence was an expected outcome and that the decision of the Grand Muft was “not compelling to the judiciary”.

Morsi, who was overthrown by the army in 2013 amid protests against his government, was spared the death sentence in the first of two trials that  concluded on Thursday, in which the court advised death sentences for 16  defendants on espionage charges.

They had been charged with colluding with foreign powers, the Palestinian group Hamas and Iran to destabilise Egypt.

Egyptian authories have banned Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood since his overthrow and arrested thousands of his supporters.

Last month, an Egypt court  sentenced Morsi and 12 other defendants to 20 years in prison for ordering the arrest and torture of protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in December 2012.

The court acquitted the former president of murder charges that could have seen him face the death penalty.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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