Former Egyptian President Morsi Sentenced to Death

Death penalty handed down for prison break, as well as passing along state secrets. Punisment must be sent to Egypt’s mufti, a religious official, for review.

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Egypt's ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the Police Academy courthouse in Cairo, Egypt, May 8, 2014.
Egypt's ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the Police Academy courthouse in Cairo, Egypt, May 8, 2014.Credit: AP

Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was sentenced by a Cairo court to death on Saturday, on charges of breaking out of prison during Egypt’s uprising four years ago, as well as for passing along state secrets.

The case, like any capital sentence, will be referred to Egypt's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for any opinion before any executions can take place.

Also on Saturday, a Cairo court sought the death sentence against one of the Muslim Brotherhood's top leaders, Khairat el-Shater, for conspiring with foreign militant groups against the country, part of a crackdown on Islamists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Egypt for sentencing Morsi to death, saying the country was returning to the "old Egypt" by rolling back democracy.

Erdogan on Saturday also criticized western nations that he accused of not speaking out against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, who ousted Morsi, or against death sentences being handed down to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the ruling against Morsi and dozens of Palestinians, calling it "a crime against the Palestinian people". Hamas is an offshoot of the international Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Amnesty International also blasted the Egyptian court's decision, calling it "a charade based on null and void procedures" and demanded his release or retrial in a civilian court.

Last month, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012, marking the first verdict to be issued against the country's first freely elected leader.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group swiftly rose to power in elections after Mubarak's ouster, only to find themselves behind bars 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.

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