By Derrick Kiplagat
Ousted Egypt President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to death by an Egyptian court. The former President is already serving a 20-year prison term for ordering the apprehension and torture of protesters while in office.
The sentence awaits the verdict of Egypt’s religious authorities before it can be carried out. His supporter from his Muslim Brotherhood movement have described the charges against him as “farcical”.
The former President was deposed from office by the military in July 2013 following action against his rule. Since his demotion from power, the authorities have banned the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested thousands of his supporters.
In a different case on Saturday, an Egyptian court banned die hard football fans known as the “Ultras” who played a frontal role in the protests during the 2011 uprising against the then president Hosni Mubarak.
Meanwhile at the dock, Morsi and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood chanted “Down with Military rule” after the judge gave the ruling. The request by the judge for the death sentence in connection with the jailbreak case was referred to the grand Mufti, a high religious cleric, for ratification.
However the Mufti’s decision does not have much weight. Even if he goes against the death penalty, the judge has power to grant it. The brotherhood has come out and condemned the sentence and has called for the escalation of protests.
The current tight security in Egypt means there is a very low chance of a mass action in protest of the sentence. Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been put behind bars while the lucky ones who are free are keeping a very low profile for the fear of a crackdown.
Morsi was accused of colluding with foreign militants in a plot to free Islamists during the 2011 mass prison breaks. Many of his 104 co-defendants were Palestinians accused of being members of militant group Hamas, and were charged in absentia.
The court also issued rulings on a different case, sentencing 16 Muslim Brotherhood members including deputy leader Khairat al-Shater to death on spying charges. The former President who faces a further charge of Espionage will be issued a ruling on a later date.