Egypt’s former Islamist president, Mohammad Morsi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, after being convicted of using force against protesters. It is the first verdict against the Egyptian leader since he was ousted by the military nearly two years ago.
The case was the most important in a series of mass trials on a series of charges against Morsi and other members of his Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt’s government has branded as a terrorist organization. Amnesty International said Morsi’s trial as is “sham” – as rights groups have called most trials that took place in the last years.
The United States said it was concerned about the sentencing. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “All Egyptians are entitled to equal and fair treatment before the law.”
The Brotherhood raised to power after decades as a secret organization when Egypt’s 2011 popular revolt toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood was the big winner in the first free parliament elections, and Morsi, who was running as its candidate, became Egypt’s first elected president in 2012.
Only a year later, millions protested in the streets against Morsi’s divisive rule, and army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was in charge of the military’s July 2013 ousting of Morsi. Since then, fierce fighting has shattered the Brotherhood, hundreds of its supporters lost their lives after protesting for Morsi’s return, while the military arrested thousands more.
Most of the Brotherhood’s top officials already have been sentenced to heavy prison terms in other trials, as well as hundreds of death sentences were laid down for senior leadership members and lower level supporters over for acts of violence for protests during Morsi’s removal. The Brotherhood’s top leader, Mohammad Badie, has been convicted to several death sentances in multiple cases, though he may appeal.
At the same time, Mubarak and members of his former regime have been acquitted of charges in connection to the massacre of protesters during the revolt against his rule. Charges against Mubarak over the killings were dropped.
The government believes the Brotherhood is fueling violence in Egypt and has denied accusations that the judiciary body is politicized.
The Brotherhood says it does not have any involvement in violence. Besides Tuesday’s trial, Morsi is facing four other cases in which he could be sentenced to the death penalty if convicted, on charges which include undermining national security and an attempted prison break.
Image Source: The Star