Egypt court confirms Morsi death sentence over jailbreak
An Egyptian court Tuesday confirmed its final ruling on ousted president Mohamed Morsi, who was sentenced to death along with dozens more over a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
The judge, Shaaban al-Shami recommended the death sentence for Morsi on May 16, a sentence that was then referred to Egypt's Grand Mufti for his advisory opinion, as a matter of procedure.
Shami, the head of Cairo's Criminal Court, previously ordered the release of former president Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown in the 2011 revolt, and imprisoned numerous Muslim Brotherhood leaders, as well as freezing their assets.
In the jailbreak trial, exiled Egyptian-born cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who commands huge influence through his appearances on Al-Jazeera television from his base in Qatar, was also condemned to death in absentia.
Morsi was also sentenced to life imprisonment earlier on Tuesday on charges of spying for Palestinian group Hamas, Lebanese group Hezbollah and Iran.
However, a senior Hamas figure, Mushir al-Masri, told Al-Jazeera that the Egyptian court was "promoting false accusations against Hamas and the Gaza Strip" adding that it was "not logical".
"How could hundreds of al-Qassam Brigades fighters reach the heart of Cairo to storm the prisons like the Egyptian judiciary has claimed?" he said.
Egyptian TV channel Mekameleen aired an audio recording of the testimony of former chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces, Sami Annan on Tuesday, indicating a "lack of any evidence or information" about the infiltration of members of Hamas or Hezbollah and their participation in the storming of the prison case.
The espionage trial began 468 days ago, and has had almost 45 sessions, the first of which was held on February 16 last year.
In Egypt, a life sentence is 25 years in jail. Tuesday's verdict can be appealed.
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The court also confirmed death sentences against 16 other defendants on charges of delivering secret documents abroad between 2005 and 2013.
Of the 16 defendants sentenced to death, only three are in custody, including Muslim Brotherhood financier Khairat al-Shater.
Along with Morsi, the court also sentenced the Brotherhood's spiritual guide Mohamed Badie and 15 others to life in prison.
Three other defendants, including a senior presidential aide were sentenced to seven years in prison.
All 35 defendants were convicted of spying on behalf of the international Muslim Brotherhood organisation and Hamas from 2005 to August 2013 "with the aim of perpetrating terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state".
The army ousted Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, in July 2013 after mass protests calling for an end to his divisive one-year rule.
Since Morsi's ouster, the authorities have cracked down heavily on his supporters, leaving at least 1,400 people dead and more than 40,000 in custody, according to Human Rights Watch.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials, described by the United Nations as "unprecedented in recent history".
The crackdown has also extended to secular and leftwing activists, who spearheaded the 2011 revolt against Mubarak.
Dozens have been jailed under a law that bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations.