Cairo’s Criminal Court has sentenced deposed president Mohamed Morsi to death for breaking out of jail in 2011 despite revising a previous death sentence for espionage to 25 years in prison.
The Muslim Brotherhood's grand leader Mohamed Badie was also sentenced to death for breaking out of jail after he too had his previous death sentence for espionage lifted.
Meanwhile, 17 others were sentenced to death in the espionage case, including Khairat al-Shater and Mohamed al-Beltagy. Thirteen more defendants were additionally sentenced to death in absentia.
The Egyptian judiciary accused the defendants of sending Muslim Brotherhood members to Gaza through tunnels, to receive military training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, ultimately to return home and execute what the group described as “terrorism acts and disrupting peaceful citizens’ lives.”
All verdicts are vulnerable to court appeal, which can lead to reduced sentencing.
The court took note of the opinion of the Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, Egypt’s highest religious authority, who “did not find sufficient space for mercy” while reading the cases carefully.
Mohamed Badie had released a statement from inside prison, on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in which he said the group will continue resisting authorities in a peaceful way and without weapons.
Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to death on May 15, along with over 120 other defendants, all belonging to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi also belongs.
The final verdict was scheduled for early June, but was postponed due to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's visit to Germany. Many German politicians, including the Bundestag's (German parliament's) leader, opposed Sisi's visit due to frequent human rights violations in Egypt and mass death sentences to opposition figures.
Morsi was elected as Egypt’s president in June 2012, making him Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Within a year, however, pressure was placed on him to leave office amid street protests against his rule demanding early elections, as the country struggled against economic problems. A brutal military crackdown forced Morsi out of office followed by the bloody dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood camps at the Rabaa and Nahda squares in Cairo.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the camp dispersal, and since July 2013, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and sympathisers have been arrested and given inexplicably harsh sentences.