Court preliminarily sentences Mursi to death for escaping prison, postpones his verdict in espionage case

Saturday 16-05-2015 12:06 PM
Court preliminarily sentences Mursi to death for escaping prison, postpones his verdict in espionage case

CAIRO, May 16 (Aswat Masriya) - The Cairo Criminal Court referred on Saturday Egypt’s ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to the Grand Mufti, to consider handing him the death sentence for escaping from the Wadi al-Natroun prison.

The court also referred 105 other defendants to the Grand Mufti to consider handing them the death sentence. They include Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, Brotherhood leaders Rashad Bayoumi, Saad al-Katatny and Essam El-Erian.

In a separate espionage case, the court referred 16 defendants to the Grand Mufti to give an opinion on sentencing them to death. The defendants include Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater and Brotherhood leaders Mohamed El-Beltagy and Mahmoud Ezzat.

The verdict on Mursi and the 19 remaining defendants in the espionage case was postponed to June 2.

Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsood said on Saturday that if the court ratifies the death sentences on June 2, the defence team will challenge them in court "except for former president Mursi. We will have to go back to him before challenging the verdict since he does not recognise the trial and completely rejects it."


Mursi and 128 other defendants are accused of collaborating with international bodies, the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah, to escape prison during the January 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

They were charged with murder and attempted murder of policemen, torching government buildings, breaking into prison and helping prisoners escape. Twenty-seven defendants are tried in session; the rest are being tried in absentia.

The court will issue its final decision in the case on June 2, after getting the Grand Mufti's recommendation. 

Lawyer Abdel Maqsood said that "we are not dealing with a verdict but a court's decision." He said he remains awaiting the Grand Mufti's decision on June 2.

The Mufti's opinions are not legally binding, yet it is customary for the court to adopt them.

In an appearance in court in January, Mursi said, "I personally slept, and the brothers woke me up and told me that … the prison was open and there is no one else but the Muslim Brotherhood and if you stay you will die."

He added that "for four hours, people kept breaking the door. We did not know if they were inmates or families. After the door was broken, we were alone in the prison." 

One of the defendants, Ibrahim al-Darawi, covered his mouth with a white gag with the word ‘journalist’ written on it as he awaited the verdict on Saturday. Darawi worked as journalist and director of a Cairo-based research centre specialised in Palestinian affairs.

Darawi is among the defendants awaiting a verdict on June 2.


Mursi, Badie and 34 other defendants were charged with espionage, disclosing state secrets to foreign countries, funding terrorism, conducting military training to serve an international branch of the Brotherhood, and "endangering the independence, unity and safety of the state."

Fourteen defendants are being tried in absentia.


Mursi, who climbed to power becoming Egypt's president in June 2012, was eventually ousted after a year at the hands of the military, following mass protests against his rule.

He has since been accused of several charges and stood as defendant in various trials.

He remains being tried for insulting the judiciary, as well as a separate espionage case.

A Cairo court sentenced Mursi last month to 20 years of maximum security prison for charges of show of force and detention associated with physical torture during deadly protests in 2012. He was nevertheless acquitted of murder charges.

Since Mursi's ouster in July 2013, Muslim Brotherhood leaders and prominent figures have often found themselves behind bars and facing courts.  

Badie has been served two death sentences before today, while he remains facing trial in other court cases. Badie appeared in a red jumpsuit on Saturday, alongside two other defendants; the attire of those sentenced to death.

Egypt listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation in December 2013 and insists it is behind the wave of militancy which has targeted security personnel since July 2013. The Brotherhood continuously denies the accusations. 

facebook comments