Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has appealed against a 20-year sentence given to him following what was publicly known as the “Ittihadeya” court case. Morsi’s defense team says they barely met the deadline to appeal the court’s decision.
Morsi has already been sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage on the behalf of foreign powers and has been given the death sentence for breaking out of prison during Egypt's 2011 revolution which led to the resignation of former autocrat president Hosni Mubarak. One of Morsi’s lawyers, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud, said that he had to make the appeal yesterday because the legal window for filing appeals has almost elapsed.
He added that he had made the appeal without consulting with Morsi, who refuses to appeal sentences issued against him by the current court house.
Morsi still views himself as the legitimate president of Egypt and insists that he should be tried as the country’s head of state in accordance with the constitution, not as a criminal defendant.
The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Mohamed Morsi to 20 years of hard imprisonment alongside 12 others, including Mohamed al-Beltagy and Essam al-Erian - two leading figures in the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.
The “Ittihadeya” trial found Morsi responsible for the acts of violence which led to the deaths of 15 people in the vicinity of the Ittihadeya presidential palace in Cairo, in December 2012.
On June 16, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced the deposed president to death for breaking out of jail in 2011 despite revising a previous death sentence for espionage down 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 from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. The court claimed that the defendants ultimately intended to return home and execute what it described as “terrorist acts and disrupting the lives of peaceful citizens.”
All the verdicts are vulnerable to court appeal, which could lead to further 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 room for mercy” when he reviewed the cases.
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 leader of the Bundestag (the German parliament), opposed Sisi's visit due to frequent human rights violations in Egypt and mass death sentences given 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 dispersal of the camps, and since July 2013 hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and sympathisers have been arrested and given inexplicably harsh sentences.