Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to 20 years in prison over the killing of demonstrators outside his palace in 2012, the first verdict to be issued against the country’s first freely elected leader.
Elected president the year after Egypt’s 2011 revolution, Morsi was removed by the military in 2013 after an acrimonious year in office. Tuesday’s verdict stemmed from deaths during violent clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and protesters who opposed Morsi in December 2012.
The verdict and sentence were issued during a brief hearing in a crowded courtroom in a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo. The defendants in the case included several senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the same verdict, Morsi was acquitted of a murder charge for which he could have faced the death penalty.
The prisoners appeared inside a metal and glass cage inside the courtroom, dressed in white and blue jumpsuits. Throughout the short proceedings, they held aloft the four-finger salute used by Islamists to commemorate the 2013 killings of hundreds of Morsi’s supporters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square, Cairo.
Those deaths took place in the context of a clampdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group in the weeks after the military takeover.
An appeal against Tuesday’s verdict is expected. Morsi is also on trial in two other cases, one for escaping prison during the 2011 popular uprising, another for espionage. Verdicts in the trials are expected in May.
Morsi is being held at a high-security prison near Alexandria. His incarceration there followed four months of detention at an undisclosed location. (The Guardian)