Mohamed Morsi death sentence condemned as politically-motivated 'charade' by supporters and rights groups

The former Egyptian President was accused of plotting with foreign militants to escape jail in Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 16 May 2015 18:12
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Morsi sentenced to death

The trial that ended with a death sentence for former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 other defendants has been slammed as a politically-motivated “charade” by human rights groups.

He was accused of plotting with foreign militants to escape from prison alongside hundreds of other Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters in violent jail breaks during the 2011 Arab Spring.

Said Boumedouha, from Amnesty International, said the case showed a “complete disregard for human rights”.

“His trials were undermined even before he set foot in the courtroom,” he added.

“The fact that he was held for months incommunicado without judicial oversight and that he didn't have a lawyer to represent him during the investigations makes these trials nothing but a charade based on null and void procedures.”

He urged all evidence gained during alleged “enforced disappearances” to be disregarded for Mr Morsi, and for the politician and his co-defendants to be released or re-tried in a civilian court.

Amnesty said the death penalty had become a “favourite tool” of the current Egyptian government, which came to power following the army coup that deposed Mr Morsi in 2013, to purge their political opposition.

Egyptian defendants including the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, gesture as they are sentenced to death in a Cairo court

Many of the hundreds of people sentenced to death in the last two years have been supporters of the former President and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Security forces have killed about 1,000 suspected party members on the streets and jailed thousands of others, according to rights groups.

Among those sentenced to death today were other senior members of the party including Mohamed Badie.

Egyptian state prosecutors have claimed that Mr Morsi colluded with the Palestinian Hamas group and Hezbollah while his predecessor was being overthrown during the Arab Spring.

They alleged that during the 18-day uprising in 2011, militants passed through illegal tunnels between Gaza and Sinai to enter Egypt and help hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters escape Cairo prisons.

Mr Morsi has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison in relation to the killing and torture of protesters and faces separate charges of passing state secrets to Hamas, Hezbollah and Qatar, fraud and “insulting the judiciary”.

He has rejected the courts' authority and his supporters say all the cases are politically motivated in an attempt to legitimise the current administration.

A relative of a supporter of Egyptian ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi cries outside the courthouse ]

Other defendants, held in a courtroom cage, flashed a four-finger salute symbolising resistance to the state's anti-Islamist crackdown as they were sentenced on Saturday, shouting “down with military rule”.

Muslim Brotherhood official Amr Darrag condemned the sentences.

“This is a political verdict and represents a murder crime that is about to be committed, and it should be stopped by the international community,” the co-founder of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party told Reuters in Istanbul.

The party said in a statement that the ruling “opened all options to rid the country of this gang which seized power by force”.

Students held up their phones as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the death sentences in Turkey

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, criticised Egypt and accused its Western allies of hypocrisy, the state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

“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,” it quoted him as saying.

Turkey has emerged as one of the fiercest international critics of the 2013 coup.

His sentence may be appealed and another court date has been set for 2 June.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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