The highest court in Egypt has quashed the life sentence imposed on the country’s former president, Mohamed Morsi, of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood (MB).
The deposed president remains in prison on a separate espionage conviction, despite the recent ruling by Egypt’s Court of Cassation.
“He is still serving a concurrent 40-year sentence on charges he spied for Qatar, the Persian Gulf nation that supported his administration and became a harsh critic of Mr. Sisi,” reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
“He is also serving a 20-year sentence for alleged involvement in antigovernment clashes outside Egypt’s presidential palace in 2012, and is on trial facing charges he disparaged the country’s judiciary,” it adds.
Morsi has denied the charges against him.
Referring to the most recent ruling by Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the Journal explains:
Egypt’s highest court overturned a life sentence against ousted President Mohammed Morsi and also cleared 18 other senior Muslim Brotherhood officials, some facing the death penalty, in a long-running espionage case.
In its decision Tuesday, the court dropped all verdicts against the group, found guilty in June 2015 of spying for Hamas, the Islamist political and military group that controls the neighboring Gaza Strip. It ordered a retrial, though no date has been set.
In Egypt and other Muslim-majority countries, the Muslim Brotherhood has been designated a terrorist group.
Last year, Egypt’s Court of Cassation also rescinded Morsi’s death sentence and ordered a retrial in the case involving accusations of espionage on behalf of the Palestinian group Hamas, which the United States and other nations have deemed a terrorist organization.
As military chief, current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the public movement to overthrow Morsi in July 2013. The Egyptian government has since declared MB a terrorist group.
Drawing criticism from some human rights group, such as Amnesty International, the Sisi government has targeted members of the movement and other Islamist groups, resulting in tens of thousands of arrests and mass trials.
“Hundreds of sympathizers of the [MB] party, which is blacklisted in Egypt, have been killed by security forces,” adds WSJ.
Morsi has been tried on various charges, including escaping prison during the 2011 protests against then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“He was also accused of sharing state secrets with foreign powers, including Qatar,” reports Al Jazeera. “His defense argued that he was merely engaging all foreign entities within the limits that any head of state would.”
“Morsi was given several sentences, including life, a 20-year prison term and the death penalty,” it adds. “He appealed against those sentences, but has already had the 20-year term confirmed by an Appellate Court.”
Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, Morsi’s lawyer, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the sentences imposed against several Muslim Brotherhood officials linked to the former president on charges of spying on behalf of Iran and Hamas have also been overturned.