The Slatest

Egyptian Court Sentences Ex-President Morsi to Death

Egypt’s deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi sits behind the defendant’s cage as the judge reads out his verdict sentencing him and more than 100 other defendants to death at the police academy in Cairo on May 16, 2015.  

Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

An Egypt court has sentenced former president Mohamed Morsi, along with 105 other Muslim Brotherhood supporters, to death for a mass jail break in 2011. The sentence was referred to the grand mufti, Egypt’s most important religious authority, “whose opinion isn’t legally binding but is traditionally adopted by the court,” details the Wall Street Journal. But Yehia Ghanaem, a former managing editor of the newspaper Al Ahram tells Al Jazeera the death sentence is the expected outcome, and whatever the grand mufti decides was “not compelling to the judiciary.” The court is expected to make a final ruling on June 2.

The sentence against Morsi, who is already serving a 20-year prison term on charges tied to the killings of protesters in 2012, was immediately condemned by Amnesty International. Morsi’s sentence “shows a complete disregard for human rights. His trials were undermined even before he set foot in the courtroom,” said Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, reports CNN. “The death penalty has become the favorite tool for the Egyptian authorities to purge the political opposition.”

Morsi and the other defendants were convicted of killing and kidnapping police officers as part of their escape from Wadi Natroun prison at the height of the revolt that led to the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak. More than 20,000 prisoners escaped or were released during the revolt, and the court said Morsi colluded with foreign militants to free Islamists, reports the BBC.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticized Egypt for the sentence and the international community for staying silent. “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,” he said.