Egypt court quashes Morsi life sen­tence

Is­lamist ex-pres­i­dent’s sec­ond ap­peals vic­tory in a week

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

CAIRO: An Egyp­tian Ap­peals Court yes­ter­day quashed one of two life sen­tences handed down to Mo­hamed Morsi since his 2013 over­throw, in the Is­lamist ex-pres­i­dent’s sec­ond ap­peals vic­tory in a week. The Court of Cas­sa­tion, Egypt’s high­est ap­peals court, is­sued the ver­dict, Morsi’s lawyer and a ju­di­cial of­fi­cial said. The court or­dered a re­trial in the case, Morsi’s lawyer Ab­del Moneim Ab­del Maq­soud said, adding: “The ver­dict was full of le­gal flaws.”

The rul­ing also quashed sen­tences against 22 oth­ers, in­clud­ing three death sen­tences against Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s deputy head Khairat Al-Shater and other se­nior of­fi­cials from the now banned group. A court had sen­tenced Morsi to life in June 2015 on charges of spy­ing for Iran, Le­banese mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah and the Pales­tinian Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas. The de­ci­sion was the lat­est le­gal vic­tory for the 65-year-old, who has been con­victed and sen­tenced in all cases against him since be­ing re­moved from of­fice in 2013.

“Most of the tri­als in which the for­mer pres­i­dent has been con­victed are not built on suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence: the pros­e­cu­tor re­lies on se­cu­rity ser­vices re­ports,” Univer­sity of Cairo po­lit­i­cal sci­ences Pro­fes­sor Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyed said yes­ter­day. Morsi was Egypt’s first freely elected leader, tak­ing power af­ter the 2011 upris­ing that top­pled long­time strong­man Hosni Mubarak. But this year in of­fice proved deeply di­vi­sive and he was over­thrown by then-army chief and now Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El-Sisi fol­low­ing mass street protests.

A crack­down on Morsi’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood fol­lowed, with the move­ment black­listed, hun­dreds of its sup­port­ers killed and thou­sands jailed or sen­tenced to death. The courts’ han­dling of the cases against Morsi and his sup­port­ers, many of whom have been con­victed af­ter mass tri­als last­ing just days, has drawn crit­i­cism from West­ern gov­ern­ments, hu­man rights groups and the United Na­tions, which de­scribed the tri­als as “un­prece­dented” in re­cent his­tory. Last week, the Court of Cas­sa­tion also over­turned a death sen­tence handed down against Morsi on charges of tak­ing part in prison breaks and vi­o­lence against po­lice­men dur­ing the 2011 upris­ing against Mubarak.

‘Ini­tial ver­dicts were po­lit­i­cal’

That de­ci­sion en­abled Morsi to stop wear­ing the red uni­form re­served for death row prison­ers. Five co-de­fen­dants, in­clud­ing Broth­er­hood supreme guide Mo­hamed Badie, who also re­ceived death sen­tences, are to be re­tried too in that case. “These de­ci­sions tell us that the ini­tial ver­dicts were po­lit­i­cal,” said lawyer and hu­man rights ac­tivist Gamal Eid. From next Mon­day, the court is to start re­view­ing a sec­ond life sen­tence handed down against Morsi in a sep­a­rate trial on charges of steal­ing doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to na­tional se­cu­rity and hand­ing them over to Qatar, a long­stand­ing sup­porter of the Broth­er­hood.

Last month, it up­held a 20-year jail sen­tence passed against Morsi on charges of or­der­ing the use of deadly force against pro­test­ers dur­ing his year in power, which has be­come the only fi­nal ver­dict against the for­mer Is­lamist pres­i­dent. Morsi is be­ing held at the Borg el-Arab prison near the north­ern city of Alexan­dria. A veteran ac­tivist and en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor, Morsi emerged as a com­pro­mise can­di­date for the Broth­er­hood to field in Egypt’s first demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2012. He nar­rowly won the vote but was soon ac­cused of fail­ing to rep­re­sent all Egyp­tians and of tram­pling the ideals of the an­tiMubarak upris­ing.

His rule was marked by deep di­vi­sions in Egyp­tian so­ci­ety, a crip­pling eco­nomic cri­sis and of­ten deadly op­po­si­tion protests. Morsi was re­moved by Sisi on July 3, 2013 af­ter mil­lions took to the streets de­mand­ing his res­ig­na­tion. Sisi be­came pres­i­dent a year later. Morsi de­nounced a “coup” and his sup­port­ers in­sisted he was still the le­git­i­mate pres­i­dent. Hun­dreds were killed in clashes that erupted when se­cu­rity forces dis­persed two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo in Au­gust 2013. The years fol­low­ing Morsi’s over­throw saw a surge in bombings and shoot­ings tar­get­ing se­cu­rity forces, par­tic­u­larly in the north of the Si­nai Penin­sula, a strong­hold of the Is­lamic State group. The ji­hadists say the at­tacks are in re­tal­i­a­tion for the crack­down on Is­lamists.

— AP

CAIRO: In this file photo, for­mer Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi, wear­ing a red jump­suit that des­ig­nates he has been sen­tenced to death, raises his hands in­side a de­fen­dants cage in a makeshift court­room at the na­tional po­lice academy, in an eastern sub­urb of Cairo, Egypt.

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