Ousted former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was sentenced to death Saturday in a Cairo court. He had been convicted in a 2011 prison break.
Morsy’s name, along with those of more than 100 other defendants, will be passed to the Grand Mufti, the highest legal authority in Egypt who will have the final say on their sentence. The verdict will be confirmed on June 2.
This was the harshest sentence that Morsy could have expected to receive in the case. He will be able to appeal the sentence.
The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and a former parliament speaker, Mohamed Saad El-Katatny, were also referred to the Grand Mufti in the jailbreak case.
Cairo’s military-installed government has banned the Muslim Brotherhood, branding it a terrorist group — an allegation it denies.
Morsy and his co-defendants were accused of collaborating with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah to break into several prisons across Egypt in January 2011 and of facilitating the escape of Morsy and 20,000 others.
The jailbreak came amid the chaos of the January 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak and led to Morsy’s election the following year.
In a separate case involving espionage charges, another 16 defendants — but not Morsy — were also sentenced to death Saturday. The verdict will be confirmed on June 2.
Among those sentenced to death are Mohamed El-Shater, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; Mohamed El-Beltagy, a former Muslim Brotherhood member of parliament; Ahmed Abdel Aty, a former presidential aide; and Emad Shahin, a political science professor now in the United States.
Those defendants present chanted “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is the greatest,” as they were sentenced to death. They remained in the cage where prisoners are held in the courtroom, waving to journalists and lawyers as they chanted.
Violence against protesters
Morsy, who became Egypt’s first democratically elected President in June 2012, was deposed by a popularly backed military coup in July 2013.
He was already sentenced to 20 years in prison in April this year on charges involving violence against protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012. But he was acquitted of murder in the deaths of protesters.
After that verdict, his Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, called the trial a “travesty of justice.”